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Sep 7, 2018

The Renovated Caye Caulker Municipal Airstrip is Inaugurated

Commercial flights are set to resume services to and from Caye Caulker.  If you’ll recall, last October Maya Island Air and Tropic Air suspended service in Caye Caulker because the deteriorated runway at the island’s airstrip posed a serious safety hazard.  Today, government officially inaugurated the airstrip and showed off the restorations done to improve safety and expand services. News Five attended the ceremony to check out the three point six million dollar restoration. Andrea Polanco has more.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

This is the three point six million dollar newly renovated Caye Caulker Municipal Airstrip. After months of upgrades, today it was officially inaugurated. It is an important point in the air transport business and tourism industry.

 

Manuel Heredia Jr.

Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism

“The newly renovated Caye Caulker Municipal Airport is an example of yet another modern and safe aerodrome now available to all users. The Caye Caulker Municipal Airport is one of the most active local airport having facilitated approximately twenty-four thousand flights and ninety-two thousand passengers over a six-year period. Those figures are expected to grow steadily over the next few years.”

 

The airstrip features a number of upgrades to enhance safety – from its hot mix asphalt to runway lights. The airstrip will also be able to accommodate late flights and emergency evacuation.

 

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“The engineering fees include substantial work done to the runway with the laying of thousands of yards of geo grade to provide stability. Over twenty-four thousand cubic yards of filling material were also spread and compacted. The new runway is now asphalted with hot mix and is n two-thousand eight-hundred and forty feet long by forty feet wide with ten feet shoulders on each side; providing greater safety and comfort to users and operators. Essentially margins and lighting system is in compliance with IKO standards have also been installed. Important features of the runway design include threshold markings, runway orientation numbers, runway marking, center line marking, taxi center line, runway hold position markings and aircraft parking stalls with transversal stop line. Installed modern lighting system is impressive and will now facilitate night time flights and emergency flight to and from the island. In terms of security, I can announce that the aerodrome will be fenced to ensure security and safety.”

 

For the local airlines, this renovated airstrip means safety for passengers and ease of operation of aircraft. Tropic Air and Maya Island Air halted service to Caye Caulker last October because of the deteriorated runway. And so today, Tropic Air President John Greif says it is welcomed improvement – the company experienced a one percent dip in revenues as a result of not operating in Caye Caulker for almost a year. But on September eleventh it will resume its operations here.

 

John Greif III

John Greif III, President, Tropic Air

“We couldn’t be happier. We had to quit coming because of safety issues. And we realized Government just couldn’t snap its fingers and come up with the four million dollars to do the improvement, so we were happy to wait and overjoyed that it is open now.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Not operating here for several months, did you guys see any losses? What did those numbers look like?”

 

John Greif III

“Our overall business was off about one percent because of Caye Caulker.”

 

With no access to commercial flights on or off the island for almost nine months and the duration of the last tourist season, the island felt a pinch in their bottom-line but Minister Heredia says the inconvenience was necessary. And now that the airlines will resume operations – it is good news for tourism in Caye Caulker.

 

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“Definitely and positively sure that it will just enhance the numbers we have been receiving over here but most importantly, the safety of our locals and tourists.”

 

Enelda Rosado

Enelda Rosado, Chairlady, Caye Caulker

“We are hoping and expecting the tourism industry to boost now, so we should be having more tourists coming into our island, especially those who prefer flying in from the international airport to Caye Caulker. Those who arrive late in Belize City, they have late flights. So, we’re so happy for that.”

 

And the three point six million dollar project has the approval of the Tropic Air President.

 

John Greif III

“You saw me walk around….I am very happy.”

 
Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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