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Nov 8, 2012

Upgrading the airstrip on La Isla Bonita

The overhaul of the San Pedro airport is complete; the multimillion dollar project was launched this afternoon just in time for the beginning of the high tourism season. The event pulled out numerous ministers and key players in the tourism and aviation industries. The expanded and modernized facility was named after John Greif the second, one of the stalwarts in the island. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports. 


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Commuters, arriving at or leaving from La Isla Bonita, may have, over the past few months, noticed considerable changes taking place at the John Greif II Municipal Airport.  Those renovations, which included the asphalting and lighting of the landing strip, as well as the complete enclosure of the perimeter, were part of a collaborative effort between government and the private sector.  The Belize Airports Authority, through the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture, spearheaded the undertaking by partnering with Maya Island Air and Tropic Air.


Manuel Heredia Jr.

Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation & Culture

“Two years ago, as the minister also responsible for civil aviation, I had announced the government’s plan to install new features at the airstrip, including the upgrade of the runway, expansion of the parking area for the aircraft, installation of adequate lighting for emergency night landings and other general enhancements of the safety and security features of the compound, including fortification of the perimeter fence.”


The unveiling of a bust in honor of John Greif II, who founded Tropic Air on the island decades ago, was the highlight of today’s inauguration.  Greif was instrumental in establishing the first airstrip, after relocating with his family to San Pedro in the early sixties.


Seli McCorkle

Seli McCorkle, Wife of John Greif II

“Since John’s second love after his family was flying, we started lobbying government for an airstrip and through the efforts of the then minister Lewis Sylvester, who also loves San Pedro, government decided to let us use the land where the airport is now located.  So John and I, with the help of a few San Pedranos, with machetes and axes, cleared a short runway.  John bought a Super Cup airplane that could carry the pilot and a passenger and so we started flying injured and critically ill San Pedranos and newborn babies and anyone that needed to get to Belize City urgently.  He did all of this free of charge.  Eventually government granted us an airline license and we started the Central American Transport Airline, known then as the CAT Airline.  John bought a four-seater CESSNA and so the airline industry in San Pedro was born.”


The multimillion dollar project, says COCESSNA’s regional manager Luis Ake, fulfills part of the organization’s responsibility to the improvement of civil aviation in Belize.


Luis Ake

Luis Ake, Regional Manager, COCESSNA in Belize

“The Central American Corporation for Air Navigation Services, COCESSNA by its Spanish acronym, is honored to be able to contribute towards the betterment of civil aviation, tourism and the economy of our region, specifically Belize, our beautiful country.  After twenty months of constant work we now can see that the project is a reality.  With the firm commitment and support from COCESSNA and the constant cooperation from the Belize Airports Authority more than two point three million U.S. dollars have been invested.”


That investment, according to Heredia, is vital to the tourism industry since thousands of overnight visitors pass through the island’s airport annually.


Manuel Heredia Jr.

“The John Greif II Airstrip is Belize’s most and one of the region’s busiest aerodromes.  It is the major gateway for our tourism industry here in San Pedro, as well as a key transport hub for local travel, emergency medical services for the island, daily freight services and conduit to other services for the Belizean public.  For tourism in Belize it represents one of the most important transportation assets for the country as air connections are a critical factor for the development of a tourism destination like Ambergris Caye.”


Work on the improvement of the existing facilities in San Pedro commenced in early 2011 and was completed within a period of twenty months.  A similar project is set to begin in Belize City in the months ahead. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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9 Responses for “Upgrading the airstrip on La Isla Bonita”

  1. Storm says:

    Any upgrade to our airports is welcome to make us more competitive with our neighbors.

  2. Rod says:

    They need to start upgrading the people of this island now

  3. alley cat says:

    Rod, you one angry dude, but that made me laugh…

  4. Belizean says:

    And we’ll start with you ROD

  5. Rod says:

    Belizean I Neva know you mi di ya. Why aren’t you with your lord and master judas barrow o I forgot he is traveling around the world again and left your sorry @$$ in Belize to be gunned down on the streets when will you ever learn belizean you done old and you still have that dunce hat pa you head whey they put dey when you mi Ina sub 2 .

  6. Belizean says:

    I am lord and master, so Im saying, lets start upgrading YOU!!! I kid you not

  7. air says:

    To Belizean:

    why dont you shuv a piece of grabage in your mouth, and shut the F.up

  8. Belizean says:

    @air, should do the same UPGRADATION with you, lol. The problem is, people take everything positive and try to find something negative about it. And so it is, that our society suffers under such people as ROD and AIR!

  9. Southern says:

    I think all of you need to be upgraded.

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