CABINET is actively considering the construction of an airpark at the underutilised Camden Airstip in Couva, Trade Minister Vasant Bharath has said.
Bharath said the airpark will stimulate economic activity amounting to US$100 million and create 1,200 jobs over the next five years.
He made the statement last Friday as he delivered the feature address at a ceremony at the Airport Authority’s Executive Jet Centre, Piarco International Airport.
The ceremony was held to mark the donation of a Boeing 727 aircraft to the Trinidad and Tobago Civil aviation Authority by air courier services company, FedEx.
“Its (the Camden Airstip) entire potential is not being utilised so we are turning it into an industrial park so to speak whereby you will develop the general aviation business which is predominantly cargo also leisure aircraft coming in, small aircraft, many of which bypass Trinidad and Tobago and go to other countries, so we are looking to encourage that kind of traffic,” Bharath said.
Bharath said the initiative is before Cabinet but he hopes development of the area can begin before the end of the year.
He said the aim is to make this country “the leading general aviation centre in the Caribbean”.
The project will fuel small business development and create job opportunities in supporting sectors.
The airpark will be “industry promoting and self sustained”, he added.
Tertiary Education Minister Fazal Karim has signalled his intention to create an aviation campus at the Camden Airfield, Bharath said.
In addition to this a drag racing track is also expected to be constructed in the area.
This will help with “taking racing off the streets”, Bharath said.
Friday’s ceremony was held to celebrate the donation by FedEx.
The plane flown by Captain John Baines put on a show for onlookers with a fly past and a landing on the aircraft’s rear wheels.
The two National Security Operation Centre (NSOC) helicopters also put on several stunts.
The Boeing 727’s registration #N482FE.
It was given the nickname “Natalie”.
The plane’s first flight was on July 15, 1978 and it has logged over 42,506 hours of flight time.
Its new home is the Piarco International Airport where it will serve the training needs for aviation students.
“FedEx 727 freighters, once the backbone of FedEx’s domestic fleet, are being retired and replaced with Boeing 757s,” Beth Rush of FedEx Express Aircraft and Acquisitions & Sales said.
“Donating these retired aircraft provides the critical hands-on training on large aircraft that is important to the skill set of the next generation of aircraft technicians.”