Sangster International Airport (SIA), in Montego Bay, St James, is set to undergo a significant modernisation programme that will transform it into a world-class facility.
SIA already has the title of the ‘Caribbean’s Leading Airport’ and business interests and stakeholders say the programme will put the airport on par with corresponding facilities in developed countries.
The modernisation programme includes a US$70-million runway expansion, the opening of the world’s first Bob Marley (One Love)-branded restaurant, the expansion of the immigration hall and departure lounge, and upgrades to outbound security, landside roads, and parking arrangements.
Delano Seiveright, senior strategist/adviser in the Ministry of Tourism, predicts that, when the modernisation is complete, the airport will compare to 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,” said Seiveright.
He added: “When guests fly [into Jamaica] from wherever they are coming, there will be that ‘wow’ factor. MBJ Airports Limited must be commended for its tireless work and vision to make this possible. That Bob Marley One Love restaurant and the runway extension will be something else.”
Shane Munroe, chief executive officer (CEO) of MBJ Airports Limited, operator of Sangster International Airport, said the modernisation plan will not only upgrade the airport but also make it so aesthetically appealing that it will assume the characteristics and flair of an attraction.
The runway expansion works are on schedule and are expected to be completed by June this year.
Munroe noted that an MWac solar system has been installed, which now reduces the airport’s reliance on the national energy grid by approximately 11 per cent.
“Eventually, the long-term goal is for Sangster International Airport to be 100 per cent powered by renewables, with major investments in solar energy already underway to reduce Jamaica’s dependence on fossil fuels,” he said.
Sharon Hislop-Holt, commercial business development and marketing manager at MBJ Airports Limited, said the check-in area now houses 60 upgraded common-use, self-service kiosks, which form part of the systems used by airlines at check-in counters to reduce passenger processing and wait times.
She added that the departure and retail expansion, which was completed in 2022, enhances the passenger circulation and orientation areas and the retail area houses exciting brands inspired by Jamaica’s vibrant culture, food, music, and spirit, creating a sense of place and providing passengers with a memorable experience to indulge in their last moments in Jamaica.
Lloyd Barnett, chairman of Jamaica Vacations (JamVac), who recently toured the facility, said the work at SIA is perfectly aligned with the agency’s mantra of creating the conditions for “accelerating the rate of growth of visitor numbers to Jamaica”.
Barnett added that the entity is “very impressed” with what is taking place.