THE BOTTOM – A team from the Ministry of Infrastructure & Water Management, Rijkswaterstaat and the Public Entity Saba decided to plan the renovating of the Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport during the hurricane season from September 10 to October 9.
Commercial airlines such as Winair and Windward Express are not allowed to fly during the renovation. One helicopter pad will be open for medical emergencies.
The renovation will cost approximately 30 million euros if a cross-strip was considered. However, based on a study, there were two possibilities. The first possibility by extending with 7 meters and second with 20 meters, forcing to change the whole terminal. Fifteen more operations for the cost of 30 million euros was not suitable which led the Local government deciding to simply keep the current position of the strip to then widen, resurface, and remark. The bidding period is still in progress which ends by Mid-March.
The Public Entity Saba hopes that the island will not get hit again by a hurricane, as this will slow down the renovation. “If a hurricane does come, the contractor will move essential equipment to a safe location on the island”, according to Government Information Services spokesperson Saskia Matthew.
The reconstruction committee decided to best repair the world’s shortest runway with traditional concrete. “St. Barths recently paved their runway with concrete and they are doing fine”, said Commissioner of Finance Bruce Zagers. Instead of one helicopter pad, there will be two pads for medical emergencies. After the renovation is complete, airlines will not be able to increase prices.
Transportation from Saba to nearby islands remain a concern throughout the community. “Additional transport besides the fast ferry from and to St.Maarten will be serviced to the island during the renovation”, said Zagers.