Work has been completed on the reconstruction and expansion of the airside infrastructure at Owen Roberts International Airport on Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands.

According to the Stantec led design team, the major airfield upgrades are set to increase safety and efficiency at the island’s “most vital piece of infrastructure” as it serves as its primary connection to the rest of the world.

The project included strengthening and extending the airport’s only runway to allow for long-haul, wide-body aircraft to fly direct routes from Europe and North America to Grand Cayman.

A parallel taxiway and a taxiway turnaround were also constructed to increase safety and efficiency at the airport by giving aircraft a viable alternative to back-taxiing on the runway.

A multi stand parking apron was also constructed to expand the airport’s parking stands by up to four additional aircraft. The upgrades are expected to enable increased tourism and economic development for residents and businesses of the Cayman Islands.

Construction began in early 2020 and was initially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the Cayman Islands closed its borders and halted air traffic in March, Stantec’s design team committed to remaining on site to help usher the project to its scheduled completion.

The contractor – a joint venture between two Caymanian companies (Island Paving and Decco) and Canadian company IDL Projects – worked with Stantec and the airport authority to keep the project moving and completed on time.

The closed borders allowed for greater flexibility regarding airfield access during construction, which minimised the need for complex project phasing – always a challenge during large airfield development projects.

“This was a major airfield overhaul executed under the most unusual circumstances,” said Leigh Bartlett, principal with Stantec’s airport group.

“My hat is off to our onsite project personnel, and thankful for the partnership of Island Paving/Decco/IDL Projects and the airport authority. Working together, we were able to see this to a successful completion.”

Stantec was able to leverage in-house expertise from the United States and Canada to put together a project team comprised of civil and electrical aviation infrastructure experts.

“This airfield expansion is part of a larger airports development master plan that will have lasting economic and community benefits for the people of the Cayman Islands,” said Cayman Islands Airports Authority CEO Albert Anderson.

“Completing the project through the pandemic was not without its challenges, but its success is a testament to the flexibility and commitment of the project team.”