US$70 million airport upgrade for Suriname
PARAMARIBO , Suriname, Thursday July 19, 2012 – After already pumping US$ 28.5 million into the modernization of the JA Pengel airport, the Surinamese government has pledged to invest an extra US$ 70 million to upgrade its facilities.
According to reports from de Ware Tijd, the plan for the modernization and expansion has already been prepared and potential financiers have been approached through the Central Bank of Suriname.
The US$70 million will be used to construct a second runway on which planes can taxi.
“This is just the beginning. We have great plans to turn Suriname into a hub,” Minister Falisi Pinas of Transport, Communication and Tourism reportedly said during the official handover of the airport’s arrival lounge and parking lot recently.
While the runway has been repaved, the platform for planes has been renovated, the runway lights on the arrival side have been replaced and a backup system for electricity has been installed and the arrival lounge, commercial center and parking lot have been handed over, Pinas has been quoted as saying that these upgrades begun under the previous administration were still insufficient to transform the airport into an international hub.
“It is still too small for our purposes,” agreed Timothy Mendonça, policy adviser of the Airport Management Authority, adding, “The plans cost much, but will yield much as well.”
He explained that the airport must be expanded to get more airlines with passengers from the Caribbean, South America and even Africa to Suriname.
The second runway will ensure that the airport need not depend on just one runway, but will be able to handle more flights a day. This is also in line with international safety regulations.
The departure and arrival lounges are currently apart from each other, but plans are to connect them by 2014 with airbridges, so passengers need not walk in the rain or sun anymore, Mendonça stated.
Further augmentations will include lights being placed on the departure side of the runway and the platform expanded to accommodate more planes.
The fire department barracks is also earmarked to be moved to a more central location. Plans are to have the airbridges installed in 2014, when Suriname will host the next UNASUR heads-of-state meeting, while the other matters must be finished by 2015, reports de Ware Tijd.