Photo of the Remarkables mountain range in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Redesign of ORIA unveiled

| 10/03/2015 | 16 Comments

(CNS Business): The Cayman Islands Government said it’s time for residents and tourists to experience a world-class airport, and they hope to do just that with their brand new design of Owen Roberts International Airport. On Monday government and airport officials unveiled the new concept of a state-of-the-art airport, with a price tag of $55 million. Officials said they will break ground on the airport this summer.

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Owen Roberts Airport future redevelopment

It’s a plan that has been in the making for several years. Deputy Premier and Minister of Tourism Moses Kirkconnell said they are currently on budget and on schedule.

“We see this as an extremely important step for the people of the Cayman Islands and for the tourism as a whole,” he said.

Kirkconnell stated at the meeting that Grand Cayman’s international airport was designed for 500,000 people, and today around one million people pass through the airport a year. He said the new design is capable of handling around 2.7 million people.

“It’s designed to put you through the airport the most efficient way possible and to get you in to your destination. What’s important about this for the people of the Cayman Islands and the tourists, friends and family is that when you arrive, you are transferred through and the experience you have arriving in our country is a very positive experience, which makes you start a vacation or return home in a very positive way,” Kirkconnell explained.

RS&H, a company out of Jacksonville, Florida, are the minds behind the design. Vice President Steve Harrill said that when structuring the design, their main goal was to create an efficient and first class terminal that provides more space.

“The airport terminal today is about 77 thousand square feet. It will be 208 thousand square feet. That’s 2.7 times the size it is now,” he explained.

Harrill said they plan is to expand on every aspect of the airport to make the process much easier. He added the expansion will happen in four phases to ensure airport operations will continue as normal.

“Whether it’s check-in lobby, whether it’s the passenger departure lounge, whether it’s the concession stand that provides more choices and more options and more convenience, even immigration the customs hall and bags claim — are all going to be bigger.” He added, “The security check-point will have room for five different screening lanes because it’s always been a bottleneck when getting through.”

RS&H architects said they drew their inspiration from the islands’ culture. The round silhouette of the middle of the new building will signify a turtle shell, and the three A-frame structures on the outside will represent the three islands.

Officials said the major project would take around two and half years to complete. Kirkconnell said that by 2018 the Cayman Islands will welcome their visitors with the new design.

“This put us in a situation where we will have a better facility, we’ll have newer facility, and as you depart it will be a very positive experience and memory you’ll have as your last couple of minutes in the Cayman Islands,” Kirkconnell explained.

However, the current viewing area that allows people to watch airport passengers come and go will no longer be allowed due to security reasons. Harrill said the new design will have an enclosed viewing area in the same location but the area will be for airport passengers who have already been screened.

“Security regulations today actually do not allow that to continue. When we go through the renovations and the expansion of the terminal we’re going to have to correct that security breach,” he said.

Harrill noted that the second floor will also have a business or first class lounge for passengers to have an even more relaxing experience.

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Category: Construction, Featured, Local Business, Stay-over tourism, Tourism

Comments (16)

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  1. SKEPTICAL says:

    WHERE ARE THE JETWAYS and Non is right about cost of cooling a glass-roofed building

  2. Clearasmud says:

    A world class facility? Where are the jetways?

  3. Anonymous says:

    What about Jetways, extension to the runway and taxi-way..I hope that since they didn’t do it this time around that we don’t have to tear this one down in a few years to put in a taxiway because the CAA will require it. Jetways will need a second floor exit and I guess we are righting of the European and South American business. Great job Joey and Moses!

    Pretty building tho…Hopefully enough to get you both elected next time before everyone finds out what is still missing and what the real costs are….

    Remember Clifton Hunter School people…Same PPM government!

  4. Anonymous says:

    A world class airport and the presentation still includes Cayman Airways planes with logos from the last time the PPM was in Government.. Chintzy!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful design but where are the jetways? Passengers still have to queue up in the heat and rain. All this and no real improvements for the disabled and those needing wheelchairs

  6. Anonymous says:

    There doesn’t appear to be a location to accommodate large aircraft like the B777. There has been nothing said about lengthening the runway. How many more aircraft can this airport accommodate? Will there be jetways installed? Will a proper taxiway be constructed?

    Not trying to be a nay sayer but the most important things are missed when a pretty building is presented. It has to be functional too.

  7. Anon says:

    It also appears to lack energy efficient design – all of that glass with no overhangs to create shade – the cost to keep that cool will be astronomical.

    We have multiple energy efficiency consultants on island – have any of these been consulted as part of the design process?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Please please please let the plan including replacing the parking ticket machines.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Maybe I’m biased since I work in the tourism industry, but it sure feels like lots of good things are happening, and business is good. Really looking forward to this new airport!

  10. Anonymous says:

    That price tag is not “value for money”. Given the size of that terminal- it should not cost more than 25-30 million USD. anything more is a total rip-off unless they intend to have marble flooring, crystal diamond chandeliers, gold/silverplated handrails to this piece of concrete. Where are our MLAs to ask for an independent VFM review of project cost and a cost-benefit analysis of the same.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Again we behold the Cayman classic political folly: as has been disclosed previously, Cayman Airways has not relayed the $13 passenger facilities fees it has collected on behalf of CIAA from travelers – an absurd $10.5mln had accrued in receivable back fees as of 12 Jan 2015. If this (infrastructure obsessed) government is going to blindly proceed on the isolated basis that the CIAA balance sheet has or will collect these receivables, can anyone guess where Cayman Airways will need to turn to honor these back fees? For CIAA to finance this project on existing passenger facilities fee cash flow alone (assuming they are passed along as they properly should have been), it would take eight years to complete the terminal expansion, at considerably higher expense, aesthetic embarrassment, and passenger dismay – ultimately born by residents and vacationers. This is per Albert Anderson CEO of Airports Authority, as reported in Jan 2015 in the (other) paper.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Still no “jetway” aircraft gangways to allow roll-on/roll-off comfort for young/elderly, small families and those with disabilities or injury. This is a major oversight.

    • Driftwood says:

      I agree, that was the first thing I looked for and did not find. Even Bahama’s has them…I travel a hell of a lot and these days being without an airbridge is like living in the middle ages…lets get this right first time round…being made to walk outside to a plane in hot weather means the start to your journey is already sweaty and uncomfortable

    • Anonymous says:

      When you have a limited budget, you can’t have everything you want. My guess is that the planners decided terminal space to deal with the overcrowding issue was more important than 15+ million for jet bridges for a tropical destination. You can always build them later when the funds are available. Well done to the team for the common sense approach that seems to have been taken on this project. Finally, a project designed that is actually buildable with available funds.

      • Anonymous says:

        How are you going to build them later when a jet bridge is normally attached at near the height of the aircraft door which would mean the building would need a second floor? Were you one of the planners?

        • C'Mon Now! says:

          It is possible to have a jetway that gradually ramps up to the aircraft. This is not the most common setup but it is possible and found at a number of smaller airports. Also people should realize that smaller planes often are boarded via stairs even at large airports like London Heathrow and Frankfurt Germany. I think passengers will be happy to climb stairs if they do not have to sit in each others laps before the flight. I have been flying in and out of Owen Roberts for close to two decades, only once have I been caught in a major rain storm. With limited resources some compromises need to be made.

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