FURTHER upgrades to Guyana’s main port of entry, the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), are imminent, following the signing of a $400 million contract between the Ministry of Public Works and Total Solutions for the provision of two new boarding bridges (air bridges).
Speaking during a simple signing ceremony on Wednesday, Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill said that the signing of the contract marks a significant step towards achieving the government’s vision of modernising the CJIA.
He related that the contract caters for the installation of new boarding corridors to facilitate D and E type of aircraft, along with the two additional air bridges.
The D and E type aircraft are the wide-body vessels that are used in transatlantic flights. These planes, according to the Public Works Minister, could carry more than 300 passengers at a time.
“These two new boarding bridges would enhance the operations and efficiency at the airport. We have been having a few chartered operations as a result of Exxon, and when those passengers come off of the aircraft they have to deplane via the stairway and walk onto the international apron then into the airport.
“With these new boarding bridges for the Code D and E, we would have those passengers deplane via the boarding corridor, basically out of the weather,” Minister Edghill explained.
In December 2020, after four months of resisting the government’s request to have the CJIA expansion project completed in accordance with the initial contract, the Chinese company, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), agreed to foot a US$9 million bill for additional work at the airport.
Based on the particulars of the agreement, there will be an extension of the airport’s boarding corridor to accommodate two more passenger boarding bridges, taking the total number of boarding bridges to six.
All bridges are capable of servicing aircraft such as the Boeing 777 Dreamliner, AirBus, and similar trans-Atlantic aircraft.
Minister Edghill said that this type of expansion would allow Guyana’s booming tourism sector to benefit from an influx of visitors. He related too that the two new air bridges would also allow larger planes to arrive in Guyana, affording persons from other continents such as Europe and Africa easier access to Guyana.
In addition to tourism, Guyana’s export and local agricultural sectors would also benefit from this expansion.
On this point, Edghill said: “The possibility of moving cargo at a cheaper cost and even perishables into other destinations increases. So, our peppers and our vegetables and our pineapples can get to destinations and it means that widening our marketing not just into the west but into Europe and beyond is possible.”
As it is now, works are ongoing for the expansion of CJIA, and blueprints are already mapped out. Specific to the air bridges, preparations are underway to get those up soon.
“So, we are advancing… my last update is that for the expansion of the Cheddi Jagan international airport, the blueprints are already mapped out and the foundations [are] being prepared… they are just waiting for the arrival of steel and other fabricated things from China.
“Some got delayed because of covid and the shipping issues we had around the world, but we’re advancing and today’s signing is the signal to say loudly that President Irfaan Ali’s commitment to getting this airport into a modern world-class airport is being advanced,” Minister Edghill said.