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Poll: majority supports airport proposal

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LF Wade International Airport (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Nearly two-thirds of registered voters want the Bermuda Government to press ahead with its plan to build a new airport, according to a poll commissioned by The Royal Gazette this week.

The survey, conducted by Global Research, found 62 per cent in favour of the proposal, with 26 per cent believing the Government should ditch the project and renovate the existing terminal instead. The remaining 12 per cent wanted neither option.

Job creation and the need to repair a crumbling facility were the most popular reasons given by those in support of the development; those wanting to renovate argued that method would be less costly and would avoid leasing the airport out for a long time; a perceived lack of transparency was the top reason for those wanting neither a new build nor renovations.

This newspaper commissioned the survey as the One Bermuda Alliance and Progressive Labour Party prepare to debate legislation paving the way for the development after a bitter political wrangle over its pros and cons lasting more than two years.

The OBA has repeatedly said its public-private partnership with Aecon will give the island a desperately needed new airport without adding to its debt; the PLP has aggressively attacked the move as privatisation, saying it will see airport revenues disappear overseas, and touting renovations as an alternative.

The survey of 401 registered voters took place on Tuesday, Wednesday and yesterday, and has a margin of error of +/- 5 per cent at the 95 per cent confidence level.

Voters were asked:

“Which of the following statements do you most agree with?

• The Bermuda Government should go ahead with its proposed plan to build a new airport.

• The Bermuda Government should not go ahead with its proposed plan and should renovate the existing airport.”

A breakdown of the results shows whites and OBA supporters overwhelmingly in favour of a new airport; blacks and PLP supporters were more evenly divided.

Among OBA supporters, 94 per cent want a new airport, with 4 per cent wanting renovations and 2 per cent saying neither. Among PLP supporters, 29 per cent want a new airport, 46 per cent want renovations and 25 per cent neither. Among whites, 91 per cent are favour of a new airport, with 7 per cent preferring renovations and the rest neither. Among blacks, 43 per cent support a new airport, 36 per cent want renovations and 21 per cent neither.

The majority is in favour of a new terminal regardless of sex or age: 64 per cent of men and 59 per cent of women; 58 per cent of people aged over 65 and more than 60 per cent of every other age group.

Respondents were also asked for a reason behind their answer.

Among those wanting a new airport, the top reasons were:

• The airport is falling apart;

• It makes economic sense due to value for money, job creation and avoiding debt;

• Government has made a good case; the PLP is causing problems for the sake of it.

Among those wanting renovations, the top reasons were:

• They would create immediate jobs;

• We should not allow the airport to be leased for a long time;

• Money should be saved or invested in education instead.

Among those wanting neither a new airport or renovations, the top reasons were:

• The Government should be more transparent;

• The new design should reflect Bermuda better;

• The Request For Proposal should be open to the best proposal.

The last scientific poll on the airport commissioned by this newspaper took place in March last year, and found 53 per cent of voters did not want the Government to go ahead with its public-private partnership, with 37 per cent in favour and 10 per cent unsure.

• For a full breakdown of the results, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.

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