The construction of a new airport terminal at Antigua’s VC Bird International Airport, one of the biggest infrastructure projects ever undertaken by the Caribbean country, is on course to be completed by September this year.
One of the most prosperous nations in the Caribbean, Antigua and Barbuda is counting on the new terminal to help bolster its lucrative tourism and offshore financial services industry.
“More than 70% of the construction has been completed,” reported local newspapers quoting the Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, who paid a visit to the construction site last week.
Built by China’s top construction company CECC, the new terminal should be able to handle 1,800 passengers per hour. The terminal covers an area of 23,000 square meters (247,570 square feet) and features four jet bridges, escalators, elevators, and a modern security system.
The terminal will have 46 check-in counters, 15 self-check-in kiosks, five baggage carousels, a mini food court, multiple VIP lounges, a bank and retail stores. Also under construction is a new car park in front of the old terminal, along with other airport offices. Once completed, all incoming and departing flight will be operated out of the new facility.
With scenic beaches and a tropical climate, Antigua is popular as a stop-off point for US cruise ships. Maintaining a good business relationship with the outside world is critical to Antigua, whose tourism sector accounts for nearly 60% of GDP and 40% of investment. But online gaming, another source of income in the Caribbean country, has caused trade disputes with the United States, which wants to impose restrictions on Internet gambling sites.
Proximity with the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico also makes Antigua vulnerable to narcotics traffickers from Central America, who try to use it as a transit point for shipping drugs to North America. The United States has recently signed a series of agreements in a bid to address these problems.