The Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority (TCIAA) said it will implement a number of measures to somewhat ease the long passenger wait at the Providenciales Airport Saturdays and Sundays.
The TCIAA made the statement in news release on Wednesday, March 23, as it addressed the myriad of concerns by not only travel public but hoteliers and other tourist interests.
The following is the full statement: The TCIAA has received numerous questions and concerns regarding the operation of the Turks and Caicos Airport Authority (TCIAA) and more specifically the airport operations in Providenciales. This release intends to address those questions and concerns raised and to keep the public informed about what is being done to mitigate the congestion circumstances currently experienced at the Providenciales International Airport.
Make no mistake the airport in Providenciales is an important economic engine for the overall continued success of these islands. The Ministry, Board of Directors, Executives, the Management and staff of the TCIAA are fully aware of its importance, and all are working to give our visitors a better experience.
Approximately 8,000 passengers are expected to be handled at the Providenciales International Airport on Saturday, March 26th, 2022. Of those 8,000 passengers 7,000 will land and depart Providenciales within a continuous 5-hour window between 11am-4PM. All airlines, with especially American Airlines with as many as 11 flights, will arrive during the peak period.
On Sunday, March 27th, 2022, another 5,000 passengers are expected, which will present a much more manageable situation. To manage the expected arrival of some 13,000 passengers this weekend the following measures will take place.
1. Additional security will be deployed for faster check-in and passenger clearing.
2. All security scanning positions will be deployed and manned to meet the projected passenger demand.
3. Additional staff will be deployed for passenger and guest services as has been the case over the past weeks to mitigate congestion.
4. We understand that an increased number of Immigration Officers will be utilized. As the Minister responsible, we will deploy additional support from other islands to Providenciales if necessary.
5. We also understand that more Health Service Officers will be available and are currently being coordinated.
6. Extra management, supervisory and customer service representatives are necessary to handle visitor questions and processing and will be deployed.
7. The departure lounge capacity is not a quick fix. The immediate solution might be to work with Hotels and Villa operators to better coordinate the departure of our guests. This will be explored by the TCIAA. We are still working on these solutions with external stakeholders. This could have added cost and logistics to the stakeholders however we must see the greater good and we strongly encourage our accommodation stakeholders to work with the TCIAA on this effort.
8. The Airports Authority is reviewing the use portable and modular space for passengers in both arrival and check-in space as a temporary solution.
9. Transparent discussions with restaurants and supply chain operators are ongoing about innovative and operational ways to make passenger experience more acceptable.
The Canopy construction which is intended to provide shelter to passengers as the embark and disembark planes is unfortunately not ready. There were unfortunate delays to the project from a year ago. Expected completion is the summer 2022. The Department of Planning has recently approved construction and the TCIAA is anticipating being able to commence construction soon.
TCIAA is aware of the issues of passengers having to remain onboard aircrafts (sic) due to the lack of capacity in the arrival hall. We are working with relevant authorities such as Immigration, Customs, the airlines, and hoteliers to expedite this process.
Conversations have occurred, are ongoing, and will continue until solutions that work and that we are satisfied with are achieved.
Last weekend officials from the Ministry of Border Control and the Deputy Governor were on hand and took measures to address the issue related to the clearing of inbound passengers. Their efforts and intervention proved most effective and are welcomed.
For your awareness, 96% of the international guests to these islands arrive via commercial schedule air carriers. The decision to put a small exclusive time frame to such air carriers (ONLY) had been implemented for Saturday afternoons to support the vast majority of passengers, taxi-cab operators, and hotel workers.
Be clear on this matter (sic), this restriction to FBO operations is for ONLY on SATURDAYS; and ONLY between 12 and 5PM; and is ONLY applied to INBOUND FBO operations. Also, for information TCIAA has been in discussions with FBOs on this matter and the decision is whether the greater impact of this very small windows is to the majority visitors to TCI. The TCIAA has waived this this rule in many cases to accommodate FBOs when requested and appropriate.
Having regard for the short-term solutions being currently addressed the long- term fix is the construction of a new airport terminal. In the coming weeks stakeholders will be updated on where we are with deployment plan for a new terminal facility.
In fact, the TCIAA and its Board of Directors have planned for an Industry Stakeholders Forum in April 2022 (to be announced) and a subsequent Public Meeting (to be announced).
Lastly, the TCIAA wishes to clarify a recent incorrect statement reported this morning on a radio program/audio circular from one of the media houses. The previous renovations at Providenciales airport DID NOT cost US$80 million as was reported. The price point was US$10 million.
Again, TCIAA is well aware of the importance of save guarding our tourism product. The hard-working team at the Authority are diligently working each day to mitigate the current situation and wish to thank the public for its interest and support in the coming weeks.