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$83.5 mil domestic, int’l terminal goes live at LPIA

First passenger enters at 4:45 a.m.

Published: Oct 24, 2013

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The early bird got the surprise. At 4:45 a.m. yesterday while most of Nassau slept, a passenger bound for Freeport, Grand Bahama on a Bahamasair flight walked through the automatic doors of the new domestic and international terminal at Lynden Pindling International Airport and into history, becoming the first to enter the $83.5 million, 105,000-square foot facility as it went live.

On hand to greet her with a gift package and a broad smile was NAD President and CEO Vernice Walkine.

“It was really fun, an historic moment,” said Walkine. “You could see she was grinning from ear to ear and that says a lot considering the hour, 4:45 in the morning.”

While Walkine was at one door, NAD Director of Terminal Operations Deborah Coleby was at another, welcoming the next passenger. Bahamasair Chairman and former MP Valentine Grimes, NAD VP of Operations John Terpstra, Manager of Customer Service John Fowler and other executives and management were present for what one called “the $83 million moment of truth”.

If there was any angst, it instantly vanished. After the celebrations with thousands attending the formal ceremonies October 17 and the open house two days later, the highly anticipated third and final phase of the transformation of LPIA, the domestic and international terminal, went live without a hitch.

“Transforming LPIA took a lot of man hours, and an investment of some $400 million, the largest single infrastructural project ever undertaken in the history of our nation,” Prime Minister Perry Christie said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“Across these three stages, more than $105 million was awarded to Bahamian contractors, and at the peak of construction, some 350 workers were working on-site.”

The result, he said, was a world-class airport.

“Now, with sleek architectural features that take advantage of the natural environment and more than $2 million invested in Bahamian art, the terminals are a beautiful sight to behold and our airport is anything but ordinary,” the prime minister noted.

“We now have facilities commensurate with the other world-class developments and product offerings on Nassau/Paradise Island and in our far flung Family Islands.”

According to NAD, some 2,600 people are employed directly or indirectly in connection with LPIA. And Walkine said the new terminal means those traveling to the Family Islands enjoy the same experience as those traveling across the globe. Local carriers now operate out of the same terminal as British Airways and Air Canada with passengers having access to the same amenities, though waiting areas and gates are separate.

“We are very excited about what this new terminal represents. We believe that this extraordinary new terminal creates a world-class experience with a distinctive Bahamian flair,” said Walkine. “From today on, the overall experience will be equal for passengers whether they are going to Toronto or George Town, London or Long Island.”

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