NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Leonard M. Thompson International Airport in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, will not open to international flights today as projected, Aviation Director and Abaco Redevelopment Co-Coordinator Algernon Cargill confirmed yesterday.
The airport was significantly damaged during the passage of Hurricane Dorian on September 1–3.
The facility is opened to domestic flights; however, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis reportedly issued a directive for the airport to be reopened to international traffic by the end of this week.
Yessterday, Cargill said they are still awaiting the greenlight from the United Staes’ Transportation Security Administration (TSA), who were on the ground from yesterday conducting assessments.
“We have the TSA on the ground in Abaco giving us a review of the airport,” he told Eyewitness News Online.
“We have to identify risk factors, and given the urgent need to reopen the airport, that we can open the airport according to our plans.
“We’ve identified all of the remediation that’s required, and the safety compliance issues as a result of the hurricane – for example the fencing that’s down.”
Cargill said: “We are seeking the approval of the TSA to implement a contingency plan to open that airport.
“So depending on that outcome we will be able to make a decision and move ahead to advise the public, the global public, that that airport will be opened for business.”
Cargill said the airport could be ready by early next week, but underscored the decision to move forward rested with the TSA.
“…It may be early next week because we need their go ahead to move ahead.
“We have a team in place and that team is obviously focused on meeting the objectives that were set.”
Cargill previously said more than $5 million will be spent to address structural repairs and improvements at the facility.
He pointed out the airport was without electricity; the functionality of the regenerator needed to be checked; the airport had to be swept for mold; the roof had to be repaired and the air conditioning system needed to be updated.
Cargill also noted that some 30,000 feet of fencing will need to be replaced around the property to keep out wild boars.
Since then, he has told Eyewitness News Online there is a plan in place to get the generator working 24-hours and water restored to the airport.
During a press conference on Monday, Minnis said the government was working aggressively to reopen the airport by this week.
“We are pushing aggressively, the relevant individuals and agencies to rather than aim at this week, we are aiming at Wednesday,” he said.
“This is essential for reconstruction and economic recovery.”