BASSETERRE, St. Kitts –- Government and Cabinet officials toured the Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw (RLB) International Airport on Oct. 26 to have a first-hand view of extensive retrofitting work done to facilitate passenger movement in a manner that minimizes the risk of COVID-19 infection by frontline workers at the airport.
Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris led his Cabinet colleagues and National COVID-19 Task Force and tourism officials on the tour.
The improvements, being completed as part of the RLB International Airport COVID-19 Retrofit Project, are being done ahead of the October 31 official reopening of the Federation’s airport.
The work is being done in two phases. Phase One involves the retrofitting of the arrival area and the installation of sneeze guards. Minister of Tourism, the Honourable Lindsay Grant, said this phase includes the construction of a Welcome Centre.
“This will house passengers before the medical screening process,” explained Hon. Grant. “This involves the erection of a 50 x 100 foot transparent tent on reinforced wooden flooring and bathroom facilities in the containers. The Welcome Centre will be air-conditioned, equipped with seating to accommodate more than 140 passengers, concession stands, and TVs displaying the relevant information.”
Other aspects of Phase One of the RLB International Airport COVID-19 Retrofit Project include a newly constructed Medical Centre with an isolation unit; the reconfiguration of the Immigration Hall; the creation of a Medical Screening Room (formerly the VIP Lounge) outfitted with four screening stations, a testing booth and thermal scanning facilities; and the installation of Plexiglas as sneeze guards throughout the airport all in an attempt to protect airport staff.
Minister Grant further noted that as the project progressed, it became evident that additional features had to be made to the original plan for Phase One of the project.
“Phase One was projected to cost approximately EC$2 million. However, major changes were made during the construction to augment safety, especially within the Medical Isolation Centre and the Medical Screening area,” said the minister. “Additionally, the scope was extended to include a sixth element, which is a complete transformation of the Customs Baggage Hall area. This was necessary to reorganize the processing of passengers to reduce the bottlenecks, while keeping Customs officers safe.”
Due to the upgrades and changes, Phase One is now estimated to cost EC$2.6 million.
Phase Two of the Retrofit Project is focused on retrofitting the Departure Area to maximize the use of the space and streamline the departing passengers’ screening process.
Minister Grant said from all indications, they are confident that the airport will be ready for the Saturday, October 31 reopening, and for the arrival of the first international commercial flight scheduled on November 7.