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Jul 16, 2008

Newly refurbished airstrip in Corozal

Story PictureIf you are traveling north by air, you will be impressed by the improvements to the airstrip which was opened today with much fanfare. Jose Sanchez has a report of this milestone that is expected to bolster tourism and bring relief to the pilots.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting
The Belize Airport Authority after a long time, has found funds to upgrade the Corozal airstrip at Ranchito Village. According to The General Manager Kenworth Tillett, this was a necessary investment.

Kenworth Tillett, General Manager, Belize Airport Authority
“We had a situation whereby we had a very unsafe airport and we decided that we would, to the best of our ability, try to give the flying public and Corozal something that they can be proud of and that the flying public can be safe. So we refurbished and upgraded the airstrip.”

Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation
“The reason we are here today is to inaugurate this beautiful airstrip. I think it is one of a kind that we have right now, the first in Belize that we have and it’s our intention that before our five years are completed, that all the municipal airstrips in Belize will be of similar nature. It is to serve the residents and Belizean people but more in particular to serve the tourism industry. If you know, the tourism industry is also part of my portfolio and I think that if we are serious about the tourism industry we have to have the amenities that we need to service these people to the fullest.”

Jose Sanchez
“Were the airlines asking for this for a long time?”

Manuel Heredia
“Oh yes, the airlines have been asking for this for a long time and this is not politics, but I should mention that we had three representatives for almost thirteen years over there from the past administration and every time they were asked about the airstrip there was no money. With the limited resources we have done it.”

No one is happier than the pilots who skillfully maneuvered their aircraft before its upgrading.

Arthur Hoy Jr., Captain, Maya Island Air
“What was here before, originally it was grass on both edges. The runway, I think actually the width doubled; twice as much. It was about almost twenty feet, it was very exact fort he size of aircrafts that we operate out here. There was a lot of pot holes which slowed down the acceleration of the airplanes on take off and it was a real bumpy ride on landing also. Pretty much, it’s nice now. We can’t complain really, except for the tree at the end.”

Kenrick Ysaguirre, Vice Chair, Belize Airport Authority
“When we took over the airport authority in April, we felt that there was a dire need to address the issue of safety; traffic safety. I think we had in the past, one airplane has already had to over extend the runway. The runway was in a horrible condition and our primary purpose was the issue of safety. We were looking at protecting and saving lives within the aviation industry.”

Kenworth Tillett
“Originally the project, we thought, would take us somewhere in the vicinity of about three weeks. Unfortunately, the rains came and it’s been about seven weeks getting it done really. We spent, we had limited money but we thought it important enough that we scraped up whatever we could. We spent about four hundred and fifty to about four hundred and eighty thousand dollars to do all of this”

Jose Sanchez
“Did you have to divert funds from any other projects?”

Kenworth Tillett
“We were not diverting as much as we were borrowing and moving things around to try to the best of our ability to get this done.”

Arthur Hoy Jr.
“It’s pretty much good. It’s up to standards that we wanted it up to and the conditions are good enough for us and most importantly the safety. That’s what has been accomplished here today so we can’t complain as long they keep it maintained it will be good.”

Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

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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