Saturday, February 24, 2018

‘Aviation city’ coming

‘Time to monetise valuable real estate around airport’

BUSINESS and leisure are expected to combine in a big way with the planned Piarco AeroPark concept launched yesterday by the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago. 

A self-contained, zoned “aviation city” that will offer locals and tourists a one-stop shop for accommodation, business facilities and world class “liming” opportunities is the intention behind what will be a largely privately-owned venture.

The table is open for investors in the first phase of the Park, which will start at 168 acres and will grow to a sprawling 1,700.

Speaking at yesterday’s launch at the Hyatt Regency on the International Waterfront, Port of Spain, Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz said the time had come to monetise the valuable real estate around the Piarco International Airport.

The venture is no “pie in the sky”, Cadiz said, as airport cities in other countries have a proven track record in creating jobs and bringing in revenue.

The Piarco AeroPark, which was named by the winner of an in-house naming competition, will be the first of its kind in the Caribbean. 

Cadiz said one of the most crucial aspects of making the “city” a success would be ensuring the security of the facility and safety of its users.

Government will work on cutting down the red tape that could slow down the process, he said, and considering the scale of the project, thousands of jobs are expected to be generated.

An airport should be a whole experience, Cadiz said, and there is no reason that passenger should spend their time simply waiting on their flight when they could be entertained or browsing a retail section.

Cadiz said an airport of the calibre that Piarco International aims to be should also feature a reliable bus service and access to nearby conference facilities, such as will be offered by the AeroPark.

“We have to change the way we do business,” Cadiz said. “At present there are several functions that should be offered by the Piarco International Airport and their absence shows that the facility is not being maximised.

“With Trinidad’s access to ample fuel, for instance, Piarco should be serving as the “garage” of the Caribbean for private jets,” the minister said.

Cadiz said contracts have also gone out for upgrading of the ANR Robinson International Airport at Crown Point, Tobago, which has been “suffering” for too long for modern features.

This includes a first-class lounge that is long overdue, he said.

Chairman of the AATT, Jason Julien, said the launch has been a long time coming and will leverage on the capital that can be generated by the Piarco International Airport.

Investors are welcome, he said.