New airport terminal takes flight into the 21st Century
Smiles and cheers replaced “anxiety, questions” and controversy yesterday when Delta flight 615 taxied through water cannon blasts and became the first aircraft to officially attach itself to a jetway at the new passenger terminal at LF Wade International Airport.
The plane’s arrival came just hours after a ribbon cutting officially opened the doors of the multi-million dollar terminal.
Aaron Adderley, president of Skyport, said the new terminal was long overdue, with the previous terminal first erected around 75 years ago.
He said: “The old terminal – parts of which date back to the 1940s – had exceeded its life expectancy and its deficiencies became ever more apparent.
“The cost of maintaining it had increased considerably. Hurricane Fabian proved that it’s shore front location along Castle Harbour had made it susceptible to storm surge.
“The need to build a purpose-built, modern facility became paramount.”
Mr Adderley said a master plan for Bermuda’s airport development needs was created 15 years ago, which recommended a new terminal be erected on the site used.
But he said that financing such a project was a challenge because 80 per cent of small airports lose money and Bermuda’s air arrivals had – apart from recent peaks – been gradually declining for three decades.
Mr Adderley said: “With the Canadian Commercial Corporation and Aecon, we were able to find a turnkey solution, bespoke in nature, that afforded Bermuda the opportunity to do what many small airports in the world have found difficult to do – successfully find private sector investment to finance a major capital redevelopment.”
He said almost 400 Bermuda businesses had been contracted during the development of the terminal and nearly $400 million was spent in the Bermuda economy.
Mr Adderley added: “This has been a long journey filled with so many questions, so much anxiety and much, much expectation.
“We had to take a leap of faith into the unknown, and today our faith and perseverance has been rewarded.”
Mr Adderley warned there may be some growing pains as travellers put the facility and staff to the test, and he noted that retailers had not been able to fully stock their shelves before the airport opened.
But he said the airport’s various systems had been rigorously tested and would hold up to the pressure.
Steve Nackan, Skyport chairman, said the new terminal would give travellers an upgraded travel experience.
Mr Nackan said: “From modern amenities, exciting new retail, food and beverage options, 21st century technology and improved security and of course the new covered passenger bridges, this is an iconic landmark that will showcase the best of Bermuda to the world.
“Our design team helped us to realise our vision of an authentic terminal true to the character of Bermuda with public art instillations, the long-held tradition of kites illuminating Bermudian culture, soaring native seabirds and an exterior showcased by rich flora and the vibrant colours of the island.”
He said the new terminal also leveraged energy conservation technology and was designed to face the threat of global climate change.
Mr Nackam said this year the island had survived three hurricanes and a global pandemic, but the teams behind the project rose to the challenge.
The project was also bitterly opposed by then-Opposition Progressive Labour Party, which failed to tear up the agreement with Skyport when it was elected to government in the 2017 general election.
While no Cabinet Ministers attended the opening, two Government MPs spoke at the event – Lovitta Foggo, the chair of the Bermuda Airport Authority, and Ianthia Wade, the widow of late Progressive Labour Party Leader L Frederick Wade.
Mrs Wade said it was an emotional experience to drive to the airport for the ceremony.
She said: “I would like to thank the PLP Government for honouring my husband for the contributions that he made to his country.
“He was proud of Bermuda, and he always felt that we had to do our best for our country and everyone who lived in Bermuda.”
Ms Wade added that Bermudians should be proud of the new airport.
She said: “First impressions are lasting impressions.
“When our tourists arrive – and believe me, they will come back to this beautiful country – the first thing they will see is a state of the art airport.”
Ms Foggo said the airport authority had worked hard to make sure Bermuda received the best value for money possible for the project.
She said: “We are here to make sure your airport works for you.”
Travellers waiting to check in yesterday morning praised the appearance of the new terminal, calling it “spacious” and “beautifully detailed”.