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No one can sell our airport

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance, the Hon E T Richards JP MP said today that the Bermudian public should not be deceived by innuendo, false allegations and political rhetoric over the airport development project.

  • It was stated two days ago at a public meeting that the Bermuda airport could be sold by Aecon. That is completely false. Bermudians should be clear that no one - no one - will sell our airport. The Bermuda airport is and will always be owned by Bermuda and her people.
  • In Quito, it was the concession contract that Aecon sold, not the airport. In Bermuda the government has already PUBLICLY stipulated that no such sale will be permitted without the explicit prior approval of the Bermuda Government. 
  • The fact that Government is still in negotiation with CCC/Aecon has been questioned. If negotiations had been completed the closing of the agreement would have been announced. We clearly are not there yet. I have said on several occasions that the document we signed in August was an interim agreement. Its purpose was to frame the negotiations towards a final agreement.
  • The negotiations are ongoing and we will only be in a position to provide details of the final contract once it is agreed and signed. Commercially sensitive information cannot and should not be disclosed at this time.
  • The opposition continue to say that government said this new development would be free. That clearly is false, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Neither is there such a thing as a free terminal. What we said was that the cost of the new airport would not increase the public debt. That statement stands. Projectco debt will not be debt owed by the government directly or indirectly. The new airport will ultimately be paid for by users, not government. 
  • So quoting a monstrous amount of revenue accruing to Projectco as though that money all goes to Projectco/Aecon as profit is deliberately deceptive.
  • The opposition also claims that the Government would use tax-payers’ money to pay the new airport’s electricity bill throughout the 30 year agreement.
  • In actual fact the electricity subsidy will come from the use of power generated by the nearby solar power plant that will be constructed on the peninsular off the runway known as “The Finger”. This will be built and financed privately – not by government.
  • The current terminal’s BELCO bill for last year was $2.3 million or $191,700 per month, not $250,000 – another falsehood. Not only do we expect a substantial reduction in the amount of electricity used by the new terminal because of energy efficiencies, but only a fraction of the new electricity generated by the new solar power plant will be needed for the new airport. The rest will be sold to the grid.
  • The opposition has stated that the new terminal will have fewer gates than the present facility. This is patently false. The 8 gates in the new facility will also feature jet bridges that will allow passengers to embark and disembark without exposure to the elements and will be wheelchair accessible.
  • The Bermuda public should ask themselves what is the motivation behind this constant drumbeat of opposition to an infrastructure project that will replace a crumbling facility, create hundreds of badly needed jobs for Bermudians and not increase the public debt? The answer is naked politics. 
  • The opposition is prepared to squander the opportunity for us to do what they couldn’t do - build a new state-of-the-art Bermuda airport, create hundreds of jobs for unemployed construction workers and help re-build our economy - and do so without adding massive new debt.
  • They are simply trying to deny the Government’s realization of an accomplishment of this magnitude. This is further evidence the opposition continues to put party before country.
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