The Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica is undergoing significant modernization designed to transform it into a world-class facility.
Business interests and stakeholders say this is expected to result in the airport’s repositioning to be on par with corresponding facilities in developed countries.
They cite the programmed US$70-million runway expansion, opening of the world’s first Bob Marley (One Love)-branded restaurant, expansion of the immigration hall and departure lounge, and upgrade of outbound security, landside roads, and parking arrangements as developments that can potentially compare with any of those at the top airports globally.
“When the dust is settled on all of these projects, we are talking about [comparisons with] Heathrow, Atlanta, JFK, Qatar, Dubai… you name the airport,” Senior Strategist/Adviser in the Ministry of Tourism, Delano Seiveright said.
“When guests fly [into Jamaica] from wherever they are coming, there will be that ‘wow’ factor. MBJ Airports Limited must be commended for… the tireless work… and the vision to make this possible. That Bob Marley One Love restaurant and the runway extension will be something else.”
MBJ Airports Limited is the operator of Sangster International Airport, which connects Jamaica with more than 60 international destinations.
A record 4.7 million passengers used the airport in 2019, prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chief Executive Officer of MBJ, Shane Munroe said the plan is not only to modernize, but to also make the airport so aesthetically appealing that it will assume the characteristics and flair of an attraction.
Munroe notes that with Sangster International Airport being Jamaica’s busiest gateway and the number-one airport in the region, the onus is on MBJ to keep raising the bar, thereby creating seamless ease of travel for visitors.
“There are other works being undertaken to modernize the Sangster International Airport and provide a seamless experience for passengers. Several projects are scheduled to commence this year to further improve the infrastructure at the airport,” he said.
“These include the expansion of the immigration hall to increase queuing and processing capacity, and the construction of a lounge for air-to-sea passengers to provide a dedicated arrivals space for landing procedures and coach transfer to the cruise ship pier. Additionally, several improvements will be made to upgrade the landside road and parking infrastructure to increase capacity.”
Munroe shared that the runway expansion works are on schedule and are expected to be completed by June 2023.
He noted that the extension will allow for the establishment of Runway End Safety Areas (RESAs), in keeping with the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and improving safety in that area.
Sangster International Airport, located east of Montego Bay, has been named the Caribbean’s Leading Airport by World Travel Awards for 14 years.