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‘Old, tired, crumbling’ airport

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Leaking roofs, rats, rust and graphic footage of storm damage were aired last night in a Bermuda government documentary on the state of the island’s ageing airport terminal.

Describing the existing terminal for L.F Wade International Airport as an “old, tired, crumbling structure in a poor location”, the 30-minute film was put together by the government television station CITV.

The proposal to build a fresh terminal in a new location has been under political fire since the deal for a public-private partnership with the Canadian Commercial Corporation was announced.

Town hall meetings on the proposal have drawn often emotional members of the public.

But the film, titled On Borrowed Time, features substantial time with Aaron Adderley, general manager for the Department of Airport Operations, who points out that an airport master plan was in the process of completion when he joined the DAO in 2006 — and it “concluded that the existing building had reached its life expectancy”.

Mr Adderley describes the terminal as “70-plus years old” and still bearing the scars of 2003, when Hurricane Fabian brought in 3ft of seawater that leaves its escalators “often out of commission” today.

A film taken by a Customs officer after Hurricane Fay in 2014 shows extensive flooding from a burst pipe, as sodden roof tiles fall from the ceiling. Wendell Burchall, the manager of maintenance and engineering, testifies to recurring problems in public areas, while Eugene Crockwell of Cedar Aviation speaks of leaks, vermin, soot and heat in behind-the-scenes facilities.

“It is fair to say that the budget allocation that we have today is simply insufficient to address shortcomings from a maintenance standpoint,” Mr Adderley tells the camera.

The facility’s history, dating back to the 1940s, is described as one of piecemeal add-ons that fit together poorly, resulting in a terminal plagued by leaks: floods in the arrivals corridor can reach a depth of 6in, according to Mr Burchall, with soot-laden winds of 50 - 60mph whipping in.

According to Mr Adderley, upwards of 800,000 passengers a year pass through the existing terminal.

“There’s a tremendous amount of strain placed on this building’s infrastructure,” Mr Adderley adds, while the documentary cuts frequently to reports from 2006 and 2008 by the HNTB Corporation that concluded the terminal’s time was up — and that redeveloping the existing site would be a more expensive option.

The film, presented by the Ministry of Tourism, Transport and Municipalities, aired last night on ZBM and will show also on the CITV station.