Plans for Grand Cayman airport are unveiled.

Owen Roberts International Airport here on Grand Cayman is viewed by many as just a way to get on and off the Island but for those of us living here it's much more complex. A huge part of our economy relies on the functionality of the airport, from businesses importing and exporting goods to the many visitors arriving to enjoy our beautiful islands, it all has a knock-on effect for the people of the Cayman Islands.  

The long awaited plans for the airport have been unveiled and we're excited to see that the new building will have a modern design but also gives a nice cultural nod to our heritage, as the building resembling the profile of our native green sea turtle. Within the contemporary building other little extras will help retain some island charm for example, the iconic A-frames from the existing building and plus another two smaller A-frames will be incorporated within the main terminal to represent our three islands. 

The good news is that public space throughout the new airport will be dramatically increased and we all know how badly this issue needed to be addressed. Especially the departure lounge and check-in areas, which both currently experience overcrowding often especially during holidays and peak travel times. With a square footage of 207,000, the new building will provide triple the current space for public areas plus more space allocated for retail and food vendors. A welcome addition will be an indoor air-conditioned waiting area for arrivals, which will provide shelter from the sun (or rain) whilst alleviating the crowding issues we experience at the current outdoor arrival area. 

The current airport has capacity for one million passengers annually however, once the new building is fully operational this will increase up to 2.7 million annual passengers, providing more than enough scope to meet our growing travel demands for approximately, the next 20 years. The timing of this project is key, we already know airport expansions are commissioned for St Vincent, Turks and Caicos and Antigua therefore it's more important than ever we ensure Cayman remains competitive within the region. 

The design is scheduled to be completed in four phases and begin as early as summer 2015, if all goes to plan the new airport could be ready within the first six months of 2018. The cost is estimated at $55 million and is funded from the $13 passenger tax which the Cayman Islands Airports Authority collects directly from each airline. There's no need to be concerned regarding travel as the existing airport will remain fully operational throughout the entire project. 

A project of this scope will certainly stimulate the local economy and the benefits will be felt across the whole country. It's going to be an exciting period for the Cayman Islands as we witness the development over the coming few years. 

In our opinion, the airport is the first and last impression of the Cayman Islands our visitors and any project to better their experience, can only be a good thing.