SLASPA


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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1.      What is the current status of the Hewanorra Airport Redevelopment?

As you might recall, we appointed the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, to carry out a comprehensive evaluation that included a detailed technical, legal and financial analysis of HIA and a comprehensive assessment of the airport’s development options.  After careful evaluation of these alternatives, SLASPA has decided to follow a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) for the redevelopment of HIA. 

2.      SLASPA and the government have been talking about this project for years but nothing has materialized. Why?

The redevelopment of HIA is a project of great importance for the future of our country. All redevelopment options needed to be fully analysed to ensure they constitute the best decision for our country.  Now that a decision has been made, SLASPA will move into the implementation phase of the PPP immediately.

3.      So, you have decided to privatize HIA?

 a)      Not at all. While we believe that private sector participation in the project is essential given our country’s competing priorities and the financial risks involved in the development of a world-class airport, the privatization of the airport is neither recommended nor required. Under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model, an experienced private company would finance and construct the project and operate the airport under the close supervision of SLASPA, which would retain regulatory and monitoring oversight, share in the revenues and retain ownership of the facility.

4.      How much will the redevelopment of HIA cost Saint Lucia under this model?

a)      Under this model SLASPA will not have to cover this cost and/or incur any development risks. An experienced private company will finance the initiative and operate the airport under the supervision of SLASPA, which will retain ownership of the airport, provide regulatory oversight and share in the revenues.

 5.      How does his compare with the redevelopment under the previous model?

a) The previous model included only the redevelopment of the terminal and required that the Government take out a loan and assume all the risks (financial, construction, operations and maintenance) of the redevelopment initiative. Under the PPP model an experienced private company will finance the initiative and operate the airport under the supervision of SLASPA, which will retain regulatory and monitoring oversight, share of revenues and retain ownership of the facility.

6.      Do you have a scheduled start date for the project?

The process starts with the identification of the right partner. With this goal in mind, we will issue a Request for Qualification to companies that have expressed an interest in partnering with our country to carry out this project. After that, interested parties will be carefully evaluated for experience, financial solvency and reputation, among other issues.  Companies that meet all of the necessary technical and financial qualifications will be invited to submit a proposal for the redevelopment project in September 2015.  SLASPA’s Management and Technical Teams will evaluate the bids carefully and with maximum transparency. We expect to award the contract to the company with the best technical and financial proposal in early 2016. Work on HIA’s redevelopment will start in 2016.

7.      What is the IFC and why was it involved in the redevelopment of the airport?

The IFC is a member of the World Bank Group and is the largest global development institution. IFC is serving as the project’s transaction advisor to the Government and SLASPA. It was selected for its reputation and also for delivering transparency in development projects.

8.      Will the Airport Development Charges be reintroduced once the airport project has started?

SLASPA and the Government are reviewing the financing model to make this determination.

9.      Does the airport redevelopment include plans to improve the road network from Castries to Vieux Fort?

No. However, SLASPA will work closely with the Ministry of Infrastructure, Port Services and Transport to consider this issue, which has been raised in our studies and consultations.

10.  What are the plans for George F. L. Charles Airport?

SLASPA will retain full responsibly of George F. L. Charles Airport (GLFC). A review of GFLC Airport has been completed and we are currently evaluating the best use scenarios for the airport.  For now, our short-term goal is cost reduction, ensuring that the airport is run efficiently and meets the demands of the travelling public and facility users. The HIA redevelopment will be conducted independently of GFLC Airport.

11.  Is SLASPA or the government going to close GFLC Airport?

A review of George F. L. Charles Airport has been completed and we are currently evaluating the best use scenarios for the airport.  For now, our short-term goal is cost reduction, ensuring that the airport is run efficiently and meets the demands of the travelling public and facility users.

12.  Why has it taken so long to come to a decision?

To undertake a project like this, our country needs a development model that reduces construction risks, generates new revenue streams for SLASPA and the government, and transfers risks related to the operations and maintenance of the airport to a third party, all while enabling the government to use its financial resources to attend to other pressing social and development needs.  All of this takes time. Now that we have made a decision, SLASPA will move to implement the PPP immediately.

13.  What is a PPP?

Under a Public Private Partnership, an experienced private company would finance and construct the project and operate the airport for a finite period of time under the close supervision of SLASPA, which would retain regulatory and monitoring oversight, share in the revenues and retain ownership of the facility.

14.  What are the implications of a PPP for the state and SLASPA?

Unlike other airport development models, a PPP would limit the financial risks to our country while allowing SLASPA to dedicate its knowledge and experience to strategic and regulatory issues and guarantee strict compliance with the terms of the concession. Furthermore, it will allow our organization to promote higher levels of training and professionalization of airport staff, stimulate job growth, and promote transparency in all activities related to airport operations.

15.  What will passengers experience during the construction phase?

The tourism industry is key to the financial well-being of our country. Consequently, we are fully committed to carrying out the redevelopment of HIA with minimal disruptions to current airport operations.

16.   Are we likely to see an increase in flights and passengers to the island?

Of course. The redevelopment of HIA under a PPP model will enable Saint Lucia to attract the levels of investment required for the airport’s on-going development and expansion. The experience of Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay (Jamaica) demonstrates that a public-private model is capable of producing a better, more transparent and more efficient airport operation. After the redevelopment of Sangster under a PPP model nine years ago, airport traffic increased, numerous new routes were established, commercial outlets were created, and the country saw a substantial increase in revenue directly linked to the operation of the new facilities.

17.  What new business opportunities will be presented at the airports?

New investments at HIA will make possible the creation of an airport we can all be proud of, while increasing traffic, improving operational efficiencies, and generating business development opportunities and jobs for our people in such value-added sectors as construction, storage, transportation and commercial outlets.

18.  Will local developers be considered for this project?

Yes. We expect local developers, construction firms and investors to participate in the bidding consortia, which will result in business development opportunities and jobs for our people in such value-added sectors as construction, storage, transportation and commercial outlets.

19.  Will Saint Lucians be guaranteed jobs in this project?

Yes. International experience (i.e., Montego Bay, Jamaica) strongly suggests that the development of HIA under a PPP model is likely to increase traffic, improving operational efficiencies and generating business development opportunities and jobs for our people in such value-added sectors as construction, storage, transportation and commercial outlets. 

20.  What is the lifespan of the project?

a.   Under the Public Private Partnership we are considering, an experienced private company would finance and construct the project and operate the airport for a finite period of time under the close supervision of SLASPA, which would retain regulatory and monitoring oversight, share in the revenues and retain ownership of the facility.In this particular case, we are envisioning a 30-year concession of the airport, which is a typical lifespan for this kind of project.

21.  Will we be getting regular updates about the project?

Yes, of course. We are convinced that this plan is the best course of action for our country and we are committed to carrying out the process with maximum transparency. In this spirit, we will continue to consult all relevant stakeholders regularly and will take all steps necessary to keep all St. Lucians abreast of the latest developments in a way that is both open and transparent.

22.  Is there a design for the airport already?

Not yet. SLASPA has basic minimum design requirements, which bidders will have to use as part of their design proposals.

23.  Is the PPP model less costly than the option considered a few years ago for the HIA redevelopment project?

We have evaluated all our alternatives very carefully and believe the PPP is the option that benefits our country the most. The PPP development model reduces construction risks, generates new revenue streams for SLASPA and the government, and transfers risks related to the operations and maintenance of the airport to the private concessionaire.

24.  If the current Government changes, will it affect the development and completion of the project?

Hopefully not. The redevelopment of Hewanorra International Airport is not a partisan initiative but rather a national interest project that clearly benefits everyone. Moreover, all Saint Lucians recognize that the project is urgently needed and long overdue. From this perspective, we hope to carry out the initiative with the full support and buy-in from the majority of Saint Lucians, regardless of party affiliation.

25.  What is the environmental impact of this project?

SLASPA has commissioned an environmental impact assessment. Based on the results, the organization will develop and implement a long-term environmental management program.

26.  How will the people of Vieux Fort be affected?

The development of HIA under a PPP model will help us create an airport we can all be proud of while increasing traffic, improving operational efficiencies, and generating business development opportunities and jobs for our people in such value-added sectors as construction, storage, transportation and commercial outlets.

27.  How will our businesses be affected?

The development of HIA under a PPP model will generate business development opportunities and jobs for our people in such value-added sectors as construction, storage, transportation and commercial outlets.

28.  Will SLASPA be the lead on this project?

Yes, of course. SLASPA is the entity in charge of the development and supervision of our country’s ports and airports. As such, we are responsible for overseeing the implementation of the HIA redevelopment project.

29.  Who is going to be responsible for ensuring that the construction of this project is up to standard?

SLASPA, along with an independent engineering firm, will be responsible for ensuring project standards.

30.  What will happen if the cost goes above the agreed-upon amount? Will the project stop?

No. Under a PPP agreement the private partner is responsible and accountable for keeping the timeline and the cost of the project on track.

31.  What plans are in place for traffic management while the airport is being constructed?

We are still evaluating different options. However, we realize the tourism industry is key to the financial well-being of our country and we are committed to carrying out the redevelopment of HIA with minimal disruptions to current airport operations.