Te visit started at the northern end of the newly completed runway where everyone had the opportunity to view the runway lights in operation. This was followed by a walkthrough of the Terminal Building, tracking the route that arriving passengers will take through immigration, customs, baggage collection and the arrivals hall. With the curved roof and glazing nearly complete – and internal finishes such as flooring, plastering and walls underway – the visitors were able to sense the scale and experience of the finished Terminal Building.
Visitors were then given a unique opportunity to see not only the check-in area, but also the future baggage and cargo handling area that sits behind it. When complete, the baggage and cargo handling area will be a secure location, accessible only by authorised personnel. Moving onto the airside of the Terminal Building, the group then had an insight into the perspective of a departing passenger. The facilities available airside will include a café, duty-free shop and lounges for passengers to relax in, prior to boarding the aircraft.
Visitors then viewed the nearly complete Combined Building, where the runway and aircraft approach areas could be viewed from the Air Traffic Control Tower.
Those Members and officials feeling energetic then took a short but refreshing walk to the top of Creeper Hill, where they could see the entire Airport site and the impressive terraces of Dry Gut Fill from a different viewpoint.
Elected Members and Senior Officials Site Visit
First-time visitor to the Airport site, Clerk of Councils Gina Benjamin, gave her impression:
“Although I have viewed the site from a distance on many occasions, when I got up close and personal I was absolutely astounded at the work which has been put in. The earth works in order to create such an extensive area of level ground is simply amazing, especially the Dry Gut Fill. It is much more than I expected and I was truly impressed. The buildings are all coming along nicely and blend very well with the environment of Prosperous Bay Plain.
“Well done to all who have worked and are still working on the Airport Project. Be proud of what you have helped to achieve for St Helena! I look forward to my next visit.”
The visit then continued on to Rupert’s via the Airport Access Road. A stop was made to view ongoing concrete operations at the Precast Yard for the Wharf and the start of the fire fighting tank platform for the Bulk Fuel Installation in upper Rupert’s. Another stop was made in lower Rupert’s to view the Sea Rescue Facility, which will house the two new sea rescue RIBs (Rigid Inflatable Boats) as well as the existing SHG rescue boat. Members then took the opportunity of walking to the end of the Permanent Wharf structure, which is now at full length above sea level. They were able to see the work to complete the round head, place armour rock and the careful placement of core-locs to protect the Wharf.
Elected Members were pleased to see that the project is progressing so well.
Councillor Brian Isaac commented:
“Elected Members are proud of the work carried out by Saints and others under Basil Read’s supervision and of the positivity surrounding the lead up to the opening of the Airport. We hope that the benefits predicted, including a growing economy, will be a great success and that Saints will take advantage of the opportunities that air travel will bring to the Island.”
In November 2011, St Helena Government signed a Design, Build and Operate (DBO) contract with Basil Read (Pty) Ltd. The contract included £201.5 million for the design and construction of the airport, an additional amount - of up to - £10 million on shared risk contingency and £35.1 million for ten years of operation.
The project aims to provide air services to St Helena, fulfilling the UK Government’s commitment to maintaining access to the Island, and provide it with a real opportunity for economic growth through tourism.
Both the St Helena Government and the UK Government hope that this will lead to eventual financial self-sustainability for St Helena.