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A better way to fly

Jamaica passed another milestone in its ongoing effort to spur tourism and foreign investment with the completion of major runway upgrades at Norman Manley International Airport last March.

The airport’s newly reinforced 2,600-meter air-side runway, taxiway and apron were put into service during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 10. Airports Authority of Jamaica Chairman Dennis Morrison, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Technology Phillip Paulwell and Minister of Transport and Works Peter Phillips were in attendance. Refurbished airfield lighting and improvements to an underground fueling system were also part of the recently completed work.

The Airport Reform and Improvement Program was proposed in 1993 to upgrade outdated facilities and make Jamaica a more attractive destination for both tourist and commercial air traffic. The IDB helped finance the program, which has a total estimated cost of $47 million, with a $26 million loan approved in 1995.

The airport program also includes the $1.2 million renovation of the headquarters of the Jamaican Civil Aviation Authority to house a new air traffic control center, an air traffic school and additional administrative space. These works, which are being funded by the Japanese Ex-Im Bank, include state-of-the-art navigational and communications equipment for the Norman Manley International Airport and the Tinson Pen Aerodrome, both in Kingston, Sangster’s International Airport in Montego Bay, the Air Traffic Control Center, and other sites. Renovation of the Norman Manley terminal building is being funded by the Jamaican government.

The runway reconstruction work presented complicated logistical challenges because of the need to keep the airport open for business. The contractor devised an intensive nighttime work system in which short lengths of runway were torn up, rebuilt, tested and paved between midnight and 6 a.m.

At the ribbon-cutting, Transport and Works Minister Peter Phillips praised Danish contractor E. Pihl and Son A.S. for completing the complex job on time and within budget. “We have witnessed an accomplishment worth noting,” he told reporters.

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