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Jan 24, 2008

Airport boss says finding new airlines, routes will take work…

Story PictureCeremonies were held last night for the inauguration of the Airport Development Project at the Philip Goldson International Airport. The project, begun in 2004, involves a two thousand, six hundred foot extension of the runway to a length of nine thousand, nine hundred feet, expansion of the apron, enlargement of arrival and departure halls and many other facility upgrades including staff training. The project was one of the requirements under which the management and operation of the airport was transferred to the privately held Belize Airport Concession Company in 2004.

With the airport now ready for long haul nonstop jumbo jets, the next step is to attract new visitors … and the airlines that carry them. Today a consultant hired by the Belize Airport Concession Company and Belize Tourism Board made his presentation on a strategy to increase the airlift capacity into Belize. It’s a critical factor for the growth of Belize’s economy and according to BACC’s Pablo Espat, it will take sustained and focused effort.

Pablo Espat, CEO, Bze. Airport Concession Co.
“In many respects, we’ve done the easy part which is to improve and expand the infrastructure facilities at the airport. We believe perhaps that the more difficult part of the effort is now to attract new and expanded services to Belize and we also appreciate that for us to do that we need to get assistance from people who have the expertise to assist us in getting our goals. So this is why we’ve teamed up with the Belize Tourism Board and we’ve recruited Mr. Martin Copeland at Intavistas Consulting from Vancouver, Canada and we’re hoping that with their assistance we’ll be able to make the right decisions and approach the appropriate airlines and we believe that with additional effort that we will be able to get the new and expanded services that we believe is necessary for the continued economic development and growth of Belize.”

Stewart Krohn
“Listening to Mr. Copeland, from a layman’s perspective, we realise now that getting new airlines and new routes is no easy proposition. When you started the expansion project it was a major investment and one of the pitches was that you were really gonna go after the European charter traffic. How close are you today to realising some of those hopes?”

Pablo Espat
“Well, I believe that there are already some interest from the airlines in Belize and I think perhaps that’s a good indication for us. What we need to do is to see if we can take those interests that those airlines have and try to put together a strong enough argument and convince them that Belize is the right place at the right time for them to be.”

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