MBJ Airports Limited yesterday signed off on a loan agreement with Scotiabank valued at US$40 million ($5 billion) to undertake expansion of the Sangster International Airport.
The expansion project which is already underway, will see MBJ resurfacing Sangster’s taxiways and aprons; an area where aircraft are parked, unloaded or loaded, refuelled, or boarded.
MBJ will also extend the airport runway and terminals, renovate the ticketing area to include a new air conditioning system and renovate restrooms in the ticketing and departure areas.
Chief Executive Officer MBJ Airports Ltd Dr Rafael Echevarne in a press release said the works will include the further development of immigration to ensure that the experience entering Jamaica is as smooth as possible.
“Following a record-breaking 2017, when we crossed for the first time the 4-million passenger mark, we are anticipating an exceptional year for 2018. We are pleased to partner with Scotiabank on this financing agreement which will be dedicated to a key infrastructure project,” he said.
“This agreement is a symbolic milestone in the development of the Sangster International Airport as we continue to transform the airport into a world-class facility. There is much to accomplish in 2018,” Echevarne continued.
MBJ will repay Scotiabank over a seven-year period. However, the project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Sangster International Airport is the third largest airport in the region, facilitating 74 per cent of traffic to Jamaica. Over the years, the airport’s passenger throughput has been growing steadily.
With more visitors arriving on the island, the expansion of the Sangster International Airport is expected to improve safety and operational efficiency on the airside of the airport, customer comfort, and greater efficiency in handling throughput in immigration and arrival areas.
According to Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s hotel room capacity was set to increase by more than 1,000 during the 2017 calendar year and over 2,000 in the next three years.
Among the hotels that will provide new rooms are the Azul Beach Resort in Negril with 150 rooms; Hideaway at Royalton and Royalton Negril Resort and Spa – 600 rooms; and Sandals Royal Caribbean “Over the Water Villas” in Montego Bay – 12 rooms.
“Scotiabank is pleased to partner with MBJ Airports Ltd by financing the improvements to the airport. The tourism sector is important to the continued growth and development of the Jamaican economy. The MBJ Airport is the main gateway for our guests, and their experience at the airport is the first and last impression that they have of Jamaica and sets the tone for their visit. Scotiabank is proud to be a part of a project that will develop our tourism infrastructure and facilitate economic growth,” President and CEO David Noel said.