Thompson: Govt. has plan for airport

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AFTER DORIAN - The Category 5 storm left much devastation in its path, destroying several planes and flooding out the airport businesses in the industrial and downtown areas.

Insisting that the Grand Bahama International Airport is open for business, despite the naysayers, Minister for Grand Bahama Senator Kwasi Thompson revealed that Bahamasair, American Airlines, Silver Airways and Sunwing have returned and resumed their regularly scheduled flights.

Thompson was making his contribution to the resolution for the midterm budget and defended his government’s stance on the way forward with respect to the airport that took a heavy beating as a result of Hurricane Dorian six months ago.

Air arrival numbers are down drastically and came to a screeching halt following the devastation of Dorian after water intrusion and structure damage rendered the domestic and international airport inoperable.

Government came under heavy fire over the state of the airport and the conditions under which travelers were forced to endure after flights had resumed.

Thompson said he was thankful that the airlines have returned and assured that government is in discussion with the owners, Hutchison Whampoa Limited and the Grand Bahama Port Authority regarding the future of the Grand Bahama International Airport.

“We are not dealing with the most easiest of persons to be around the table. We know that and we recognize that in fairness when it comes to dealing with Hutchison Whampoa and their processes and for such a serious decision as this, we will have to make sure that we get this right,” he said.

The minister for Grand Bahama assured that government has a real redevelopment plan for the airport facility, he said what government is facing and has called upon to deal with is not an easy task.

The Minnis administration, he said, will not back down and will meet these challenges, regardless of the political talk and declared that there is hope for Grand Bahama and Abaco.

Drawing attention to success stories that continue to come out of what was a massive tragedy, Senator Thompson expressed how impressed he was to see a number of business affected by the storm fight their way back up, a majority of them from under catastrophic damage due to several feet of sea surge and literally out of the rubble.

“We often hear about the challenges that the businesses in Grand Bahama are facing, but for a moment I really want to talk about the accomplishments of some of those businesses,” he pointed out.

“We’ve heard from places like Kelly’s (Freeport) Ltd. which was under six feet of water. Kelly’s now has been able to restore their temporary facility and they are just about ready to open up a brand new repaved, renovated facility to bring back better from before they had gone through storm.

Kelly’s, he added, is one of the major hardware and houseware stores in the Freeport area.

Sawyer’s Fresh Market, one of the largest grocery stores, was another one of those businesses located in the same business district that suffered some six feet of water intrusion and managed to rise out of the devastation.

“Not only have they restored their facility, but they have opened their new mega warehouse near to their facility and they have clear land for their other mega multi-million dollar project on Midshipman Road. They’re moving forward. That’s a good story to tell in Grand Bahama.”

Senator Thompson said another story is that of Bahamian Brewery, the producers of Sands Beer, which was left inoperable after being completely submerged by water.

“They are now in the process of renovating and they anticipate very shortly that they’re going to be back open, full-time with all of their employees,” he said.

All of the industrial companies have been able to get back up, reopen and are presently operating full time, the minister for Grand Bahama said.

Thompson, while commending the stance the Grand Bahama Shipyard took after Dorian, said he is especially impressed with the fact that officials there have indicated that they are preparing to expand and purchase a new dock, in addition to their reluctance to terminate any Bahamians, but instead sent home a number of expatriate workers while keeping on all of the Bahamian employees.

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