Senator Fred Mitchell, the Senate 4 February 2020:
“I must tell you that 18 months after the hurricane, that airport is simply a disgrace.
“There is no airport…
“They have immigration in a tent. So, you cannot tell at that airport whether there is an international arrival or a domestic arrival. You just can’t tell.
“And I can tell you that the immigration officers, I’ve spoken to them, are really exercised about the state and condition of that airport, or the lack of condition at that airport…
“And what Grand Bahamians can’t understand is why would you not force the Grand Bahama Port Authority and Hutchison to live up to their obligation to provide an airport for the island?
“You know, it’s just ludicrous that these people are allowed to get away with this. Do something.
“And then it appears that their view is that we collect the insurance and we’re going to give it to the government after we collect the insurance and sell it to the government, which is the same fast one they pulled on us with the hotel out at the beach. Collect the insurance and say ‘I’m going to sell it to you for $65 million’.
“…The people of Freeport need an airport and the work should be done to get that airport up and functioning.”
Senator Carl Bethel replies:
“You know the long period between the devastation of Hurricane Dorian and today – more than a year – and how that relates to the acquisition of the Grand Bahama International Airport has been very vexing for the government,” Bethel said in the Senate yesterday.
“You have a situation where the international airport in Freeport is owned by two private sector entities, neither of whom had any interest in restoring the airport, although there is a commitment to provide an international airport in the Hawksbill Agreement.
“But everybody just walked away. The Bahamas government had to go through very intense negotiations and they took time…because not only is it the issue of the acquisition, but there were issues such as the entitlements of the employees at that site…and issues about certain other matters that have now been, I’m happy to say, thoroughly resolved…
“I am happy to announce that we have reached a point where we are what they say in law ‘ad idem’ and all points of differences have been resolved,” he said.
“And the Bahamian people can confidently look forward to moving.
“…And so, we will start to see immediately the beginning of the investments in the upgrade, repair, reinstatement of facilities.
“But to reinstate on a permanent basis, having regard to the location, you are going to need a berm of at least 10 feet high to cover the entire airport terminal airport and any parking facilities, etc. The entirety of the runways would have to be raised because at spring tide you have flooding over the runways. So, there are many things that need to be done.”