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Approaching Bermuda by air
By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online
Bermuda International Airport and runway taken by USNAS Bermuda 1993
L. F. Wade International Airport, Bermuda
Aviation files by the same author include Airlines - Bermuda's Aviation History - Cruise Ship Arrivals - Illegal Imports - Former US Military facilities in Bermuda. In 1936, decades before Keith and his siblings were born, his father pioneered the radio direction finding system that was instrumental in commercial airlines flying into Bermuda and Keith's interest in Bermudiana began accordingly. This particular website seen here is one of the 124+ in-depth and unique web-files about Bermuda produced solely by the private-sector Bermuda Online and includes very extensive historic information about this entirely US taxpayer-paid airport and its US Military origins not on the Government's Airport website.
2016. September 27. A formal objection has been made by the Bermuda Government to the investigation of the airport redevelopment project by the Commission of Inquiry. The commission — which will hold a public hearing at 10am tomorrow — said in a brief statement this afternoon that the Government had “now followed proper procedure” and sent written objections, days after acting Attorney-General, Senator Michael Fahy, held a press conference declaring that the LF Wade International Airport deal was outside the scope of the inquiry. The commission’s statement said: “Subsequent to the Government press conference and statement last Friday, Government has now followed proper procedure which the commission established for those who wish to make objection to any matter which the commission proposes to examine as part of its inquiry. Written objections to the inclusion of the airport were received yesterday from the Attorney General’s Chambers on behalf of the Government. In accordance with our published rules, the commission must deliberate on those objections and proposes to make a decision shortly. Because the issue has been raised publicly, the commission also wishes to state publicly that no undertaking was ever given to the Government that we would not inquire into the airport project.” The independent Commission of Inquiry was formed by Michael Dunkley, the Premier, in February this year with a remit to inquire into issues raised by a damning report from the Auditor-General on how civil servants mismanaged public funds during the financial years 2009 to 2012. Four commissioners — Sir Anthony Evans, Fiona Luck, John Barritt and Kumi Bradshaw — were appointed and they announced in June that they would look beyond those years, probing into government contracts awarded both before and after the period in question. Commission chairman Sir Anthony told the first public hearing in June that the Government’s current airport redevelopment contract would be investigated, along with contentious projects of the past. But Mr Fahy told Friday’s press conference the airport project was not within the commission’s terms of reference and civil servants who received requests from the commission for information relating to the airport “need not reply. Government has been consistent in its representations to the commission that the LF Wade project is not within their terms of reference or scope. The commission has persisted in requesting documents and has asked civil servants to provide information about the airport project. Civil servants need not reply to requests for information that is not relevant to the terms of reference.” The Minister said the Government asked the commission to hold off on requesting documents until the commercial close of the $250 million project with the Canadian Commercial Corporation. But the close was delayed so the commission, said Mr Fahy, went ahead with its requests to civil servants. Tomorrow’s hearing is at St Theresa’s Church Hall, Laffan Street, Hamilton.
2016. September 27. By David Burt, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Minister of Finance and MP for Pembroke West Central (Constituency 18) "Mr Speaker, there is no doubt that the biggest threat to the future prospects of the way of life we enjoy in Bermuda today is the problem of the Government deficit and public debt.” — Bob Richards (2016 Budget Statement). Bob Richards is on record as stating that the biggest issue we have to confront as a country is the country's deficit. We in the Progressive Labour Party agree that we must get our budget deficit under control. With that stated, it boggles the mind that the Minister of Finance, who claims to be committed to deficit reduction, and the One Bermuda Alliance, which was elected with promises of balancing the budget, continue to press ahead with the untendered privatization of our airport. The OBA's 30-year privatization of our airport to Canadian company Aecon, which will earn a taxpayer-guaranteed return of 16 per cent, will add at least $33 million to our annual budget deficit. Over 30 years, this means an additional $990 million of debt will be added to our already $2.4 billion national debt. If inflation were considered, this number would easily exceed $1 billion of additional debt. I will break down the numbers, as it is important that the taxpayers of Bermuda understand exactly what Mr Richards will ask Parliament to approve in November. The L.F. Wade International Airport, according to the 2016-17 budget, earns $37.2 million a year in revenue at present, while expenses are only $20 million a year. This results in a $17.2 million surplus annually. That's right — our airport, as old as it is, turns a healthy profit every year. However, under the existing agreement that the OBA has signed, Aecon will get all of the $37.2 million in revenue, but will assume only $11 million of expenses. Taxpayers will still be responsible for $9 million of present airport expenses annually. This means that instead of making $17.2 million of profit a year on the airport, we will be spending/losing $9.8 million a year, meaning that the negative net impact on the Government's consolidated fund will be $26.3 million a year. This $26.3 million annual hole in our budget does not take into account the estimated $107 million of taxpayer-funded electricity over 30 years. It also does not take into account the exemption that Aecon has been granted from payroll taxes and work-permit fees. Further, taxpayers will incur $3.6 million in additional annual expenses for the proposed new airport quango. This means that the Minister of Finance, who has done his best to convince voters that he is a sound steward of the public purse, will ask MPs to approve a contract that will increase our budget deficit by at least $32.6 million a year.
These facts paint a different picture than what the minister said last year about the airport: “The net effect on the consolidated fund is minimal.” – March 31, 2015. I am sure that the taxpayers of Bermuda will agree that $33 million a year is not minimal. Thirty-three million dollars is more than the Government spends annually on tourism. It is larger than the budget of five of the 12 cabinet departments listed in this year's Budget Statement. The Minister of Finance has repeatedly said that Aecon will also assume the expenses of the airport; however, as the figures in the chart show, they will assume only half of the expenses. The rest of the expenses will be the responsibility of Mr and Mrs Taxpayer. That $33 million will have to be found somewhere, and the only way it will be found is from increased taxes, cuts to government services or additional borrowing — all of which can have a negative economic impact on Bermuda. As taxpayers read this — and scratch their heads in disbelief — we must ask ourselves why Mr Richards is so committed to this project. Why would he press ahead with a project that will increase our deficit, requiring us to borrow more money and thus increase our national debt? What possible motivation could the Minister of Finance have to push through a deal that makes our financial position as a country worse? One answer could be that the OBA is looking for a short-term boost in employment in advance of an election; however, we must ask at what cost? Is $33 million of extra money borrowed each year for the next 30 years, which will increase our debt by at least $990 million, worth three years of jobs? Is it right to pass on this $990 million of debt to future generations? Should we be handing over our airport to a Canadian company that will earn a guaranteed return of 16 per cent, while we struggle to maintain our schools and bridges? We need to do something about our airport. The PLP has put forward a less expensive and fiscally responsible plan that extends the useful life of our existing structure, creating immediate jobs that can be filled by Bermudians, while keeping airport profits here in Bermuda, which will assist us in getting our fiscal house in order. Mr Richards's airport privatization is a bad deal for Bermuda and will compound our financial problems. We implore all taxpayers to contact their OBA MP and tell them to vote no on this deal that will grant a taxpayer guaranteed return of 16% to a Canadian company while saddling our children with at least $990 million of extra debt."
2016. September 23. Documents linked to the Bermuda Government’s airport project plans remain confidential, and would harm the island’s reputation if released before commercial close, according to Acting Attorney-General Senator Michael Fahy. The independent Commission of Inquiry, which is tasked with investigating allegations by Auditor-General Heather Jacobs Matthews that public funds had been mismanaged in the fiscal years ending 2010-12, announced in June that the proposal for a new terminal at LF Wade International Airport would be among the projects investigated. However, Mr Fahy this afternoon said that the commission and the Government “disagree” on the airport, and that the commission would have to make a ruling on the matter. “It is our view that the commission will decide in our favour,” he added. Mr Fahy was commenting in the wake of a communication within the civil service advising that questions on the airport be held in abeyance. “The Government has been consistent in its representations to the commission that the LF Wade project is not within their terms of reference or scope. The commission has persisted in requesting documents and has asked civil servants to provide information about the airport project. Although the Government has advised that civil servants must co-operate with the commission, our position has not changed that the LF Wade project is not within the commission’s terms of reference.” Commercial close on the project has been delayed, although Mr Fahy declined to specify when the deal might be complete. “Certain documents relating to the project are protected by public interest immunity. They are contract documents, subject to negotiation.” He added that the Government had not made any undertaking to the commission, but had asked that it hold off on its requests. Mr Fahy described the information as “proprietary to the developer”, and said the Government would violate its non-disclosure agreement by releasing it before commercial close. “After this process is completed, we look forward to working with the various parties to provide relevant information.” A similar clash of views occurred when the Public Accounts Committee sought to obtain the schedules of the airport agreement, with the Government insisting that the full documentation could not be released until the signing of a definitive agreement on the project. The public-private partnership with Canadian Commercial Corporation has been defended by the Government as the only means of building a new terminal for the airport, but has been repeatedly criticised by the Opposition, along with grass roots groups such as the People’s Campaign.
2016. September 19. Opinion, by Senator Georgia Marshall, JP, Bermuda Government’s Senate spokeswoman for justice. "My colleague, Minister Wayne Scott, wrote recently about the way the Combined Opposition changes its story as its objections to the airport plan are proved, one by one, to be false. I’d like to try to demonstrate how that works by showing that a recent Christopher Famous article, published in The Royal Gazette, was riddled with misinformation. Mr Famous, a staunch supporter of the Combined Opposition, was trying to say that compared to Islands in the Caribbean which are also redeveloping their airports, Bermuda was paying too much. Among the examples he gave were airport developments in Antigua and St Maarten. Antigua was only paying $98 million for its airport, he said, and St Maarten only $117 million. The People’s Campaign used the same examples. One part of the reason is that they were, in both those cases, quoting the cost of only a single phase of these airport development projects, and ignoring the cost of previous and subsequent phases. In so doing they were comparing apples to oranges. But there are other reasons the cost is higher. In Bermuda, we are raising the site to protect against storm surge. The foundation structure requires pilings sunk to a depth of 107 feet. The cost of professional services, materials and labour in Bermuda is much higher than in the Caribbean. And there is a requirement here to build US Customs Pre-clearance facilities, which do not exist in the airports he cites in his article. The $117 million figure he gave for the cost of the St Maarten airport was actually the cost of Phase II of their plan, which was completed in 2006. Phase I was completed in 2001, and the current Phase III is being developed with an additional $132 million in financing. If Phase III is completed on budget, the combined cost will be over $240 million, more than double the amount Mr Famous cited for Phase II works. In Antigua, he said, VC Bird International cost only $98 million. That’s certainly the figure the authorities there use, but it doesn’t paint the whole picture. Phase I of that country’s airport development plan was awarded in 2007 to a consortium consisting of a Brazilian construction company and the Antigua-Barbuda Investment Bank. In 2011, the Antigua Government was unable to meet a $28 million payment to the Brazilian company, which abandoned its work on the project. The investment bank collapsed, and the government’s default was certainly one reason for that collapse. After the US opposed an IMF funding package for Antigua, perhaps because of Antigua’s poor record of repayment, the Antiguans got a $95 million loan from Credit Suisse, some of which is at 13 per cent interest, with a ten-year moratorium on the repayment of principal, secured by the imposition of a $37.50 per person tax increase on both arrivals and departures, payable to Credit Suisse. Part of the Credit Suisse money — $50 million in total — had to be used to compensate the Brazilian company and local Antiguan investors. The Antiguan Government has now had second thoughts about that loan, and is trying to renegotiate it. Their aviation minister, Robin Yearwood, recently told the Observer newspaper: “The loan that they (the United Progressive Party government) had signed for me — since I became the Minister — I don’t like it. I think reason will prevail. You can’t get no 13 per cent and 10 per cent interest in a world like this.” Phase I of the work involved renovations and expansion of the existing terminal, and some work on the airfield. Phase II involved the building of a new terminal on land seized from jailed American financier Allen Stanford. New loans had to be taken out to fund construction of the new terminal. They are said to have totaled between $75 million and $137.9 million. The Chinese became involved, completing the project in 2015 using all Chinese materials and all Chinese labour. Financing also included Chinese government “grants” which in theory do not have to be repaid. However, the Antigua Government recently handed over another large parcel of prime beachfront real estate seized from Allen Stanford to a Chinese investment group, including the 455-acre Guiana Island and some smaller islands nearby. The Chinese financing of the airport deal is complicated and not at all transparent, but you get the picture. The true cost of Antigua’s new airport is a very, very long way above $98 million. Mr Famous didn’t mention the airport at St Vincent, which services fewer than 80,000 visitors a year. I bring it up because it is instructive in this context. Ground was broken for the new Argyll International Airport in 2008 supported by funding from Taiwan, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela, among others. It was due to open in 2011, but the St Vincent Government missed completion dates in that year, in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and are thought likely to miss again in 2016. The cost, initially expected to be $240 million, after more than five years of delays, is currently estimated to be around $350 million! Anybody who thinks the team at the Bermuda Ministry of Finance is going to allow this kind of shambolic situation to characterize our management of this new airport project is mistaken. Bermuda is serious about getting this done quickly, efficiently, intelligently, carefully and without wasting so much as a penny if we can help it. We keenly feel our responsibility to get this done in a way that will make us all in Bermuda proud. In fact, it’s a strategic decision to have CCC as a government partner to guarantee the project will be delivered on time, on budget and on spec. We have found a way of doing it that doesn’t add to Bermuda’s debt burden, freeing us from the necessity to squeeze the annual budget and increase the economic pain Bermudians are feeling. We have found a way of doing it that guarantees delivery on time and on budget — free of cost overruns. We have found a way of doing it that allows us to maximize the participation of Bermudians in the project, before, during and after construction. And as we’ve all seen in the architects’ renderings, we’ve found a way of doing it that is going to give us an architecturally attractive, first-class, modern, efficient airport, one that will both project our first-class reputation and help us in our economic recovery. It’s one of the great tragedies of our time that the Combined Opposition can’t see what is in front of their noses. They have wasted countless hours and boundless energy searching fruitlessly for some evidence of wrongdoing on the government’s part over the last two-and-a-half years. Just think what they might have accomplished if they’d put that time to helping Bermudians in their time of need."
2016. September 7. Bermuda’s major international insurance companies believe the island needs a new airport to replace the current “decrepit” structure. The Association of Bermuda International Insurers and Reinsurers this morning issued a statement saying it did not take a position on the Bermuda Government’s airport redevelopment plan but added that it was clear the existing facility needed to be replaced. “Abir members recognise that Bermuda’s lifeline to the rest of the world — the 70-year-old Bermuda L.F. Wade Airport Terminal — is decrepit, subject to extraordinary maintenance costs, and at enormous risk from sea level rise and hurricanes,” Abir said in today’s statement. “The sewage system is antiquated and subject to malfunction due to tide and wind conditions thus creating a potential public health hazard to workers and visitors. A consensus is emerging that the airport terminal is beyond repair and that a new facility is needed. We are not experts on Bermuda’s infrastructure priorities, but we believe that the current airport facility needs to be replaced and that such replacement will benefit Bermuda.” Abir’s members include some of the island’s largest employers, who had a combined payroll of around 1,500 people in Bermuda as of the end of 2015. Their clients and employees are major users of the airport. Although Abir said a new airport was needed, the organisation stopped short of backing the Government’s proposed scheme to build a new terminal in collaboration with Canadian government agency, the Canadian Commercial Corporation. But it warned against the dangers of taking on extra public debt. “We don’t take a position, pro or con, on the Government’s proposed rebuilding plan,” Abir stated. “It is not for us to opine on what the financial structure or management should be of the airport project, but we do recognise the Government has come forward with a financing plan that avoids additional debt, has protections against troubling cost overruns and follows a model that has been used elsewhere on infrastructure projects. After six years of a devastating recession, Bermuda’s debt is a serious concern; it seems clear the government cannot take on much additional debt without imperiling essential services and receiving another sovereign debt rating downgrade. Before a decision is made, we understand that the Government will make the required public disclosures as called for under the entrustment agreement with the UK so that Bermuda’s voters are afforded a full airing of the financial details. With that information in the public domain it should be possible for an informed decision to be made about the airport project and its impact on the Government’s finances.”
2016. September 3. The controversial airport redevelopment project, lack of employment for Bermudians and the need for a living wage were all high on the agenda in the 35th Annual Labour Day Banquet speech last night. Keynote speaker Chris Furbert, president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, opened his speech by asking what would happen to working class people if the decisions of the Bermuda Government were not questioned. One of the biggest questions being asked by the union, he said, was why the whole agreement for the airport deal had not yet been shared with the public. He told the audience packed into the Poinciana Ballroom at the Fairmont Southampton Resort: “With all that has been discussed with regard to this airport project, the people of Bermuda have yet to see how this whole agreement will benefit Bermuda and its people. “The Public Private Partnership, which is a contract between government and a private company, is the model that this current government is attempting to use. “What this means is a private company finances, builds and operates some element of the public service and in turn gets paid over a number of years (in this case Aecon for 30 years) either through concessions or payments from the public authority (government) or both. “Is this what Bermuda wants? No! The people have spoken and their voices continue to go unheard. This is a very bad deal for Bermuda. Once again Bermuda labour is at the disposal of foreigners.” Speaking on employment, Mr Furbert questioned why Bermudians are struggling to find work, saying that according to the Employment Brief released by the Department of Statistics, the number of jobs filled by Bermudians declined by 52 per cent from 2008 to 2015. He said what was also a concern was that the drop in non-Bermudian jobs was only 48 per cent in the same period. “So you tell me ... how this government has allowed this to happen to Bermudians, whilst the business sector continues to overlook Bermudians during their hiring practices?” He then quoted Martin Luther King on “our glorious fight for civil rights”, and recalled the March 2016 protest against the proposed Immigration Protection Amendment Act 2016. “The OBA [One Bermuda Alliance] government, who failed to follow the proper consultation process, and were prepared once again to put Bermudians second.” With regard to a living wage he said now that the government had addressed the issue he hoped all would participate in the process. “I look forward to making sure that Bermuda as a country will start to address this imbalance in wage earnings between blacks, whites and others. The idea of a working wage is that workers and their families should be able to afford a basic but decent lifestyle that is considered acceptable by society at its current level of economic development,” he said, citing the International Labour Organisation. Mr Furbert also touched on the leaders of our future — young people — and he highlighted some of the opportunities that are open to them. He spoke of action groups, such as the Skill Development Programme, that help to get young people into horticulture as well as numerous religious and sporting youth groups that are doing positive things in our community. In closing, Mr Furbert said: “I trust that I have given you food for thought ... the time has come for us to create a pathway to unity that will truly bring back unity to the community”.
2016. August 30. Competitive tendering would not work in the bid to build a new airport, Bob Richards said yesterday. Mr Richards, the Minister of Finance, said that putting out a tender to design and build the new airport would mean an estimated $575 million in extra debt — and hit the island’s credit rating. And he added that a competitive tender to design, build, finance, operate and maintain a new airport would lead to substantial government investment to back the project as well as guarantees. Mr Richards was speaking as the Government prepared to release documents which will form part of the submission to the UK government on the proposed tie-up with the Canadian Government, its Crown Commercial Corporation and construction firm Aecon to develop a replacement for the airport. The papers — expected to be available on the government website last night — said that a simple design and build tender for a new airport, estimated to cost $514 million in 2008, would raise government debt. It added: “With inflation adjustments and engineering refinements we assume that the Government of Bermuda would need to borrow $575 million to finance the construction of the new terminal.” The report said that would weaken the island’s credit profile, which could trigger a ratings downgrade, which would increase the cost of Bermuda’s borrowing, which already stands at $2.4 billion. Mr Richards added that the DBFOM (design, build, finance, operate and maintain) option — which would require a tender — would, like the preferred government-to-government deal with CCC, be an off-balance sheet option which would not impact government debt. But he said it would not be “a made-to-measure solution” and would probably be based on previous studies that forecast a $0.5 billion cost, with bids of around $460 million to $489 million likely. He explained: “Therefore, the Bermuda Government would have likely had to chip in with extra money to make up the difference. We don’t have the passenger traffic to support that price. Air traffic has been declining for 30 years, although we’re trying to reverse that trend. This was a problem with that particular option.” The report said: “This option was not considered to be viable as the Government of Bermuda would likely need to provide capital in the form of a substantial completion payment to ensure a financially viable project and successful competitive tender. This, combined with onerous guarantees, would also likely impair the Government of Bermuda’s sovereign credit rating and therefore its cost of borrowing.” And the report pointed out: “Internationally, over the last 30 years, there has not been any successful DBFOM tenders for airports with traffic less than one million passengers — like Bermuda’s.” Mr Richards said the preferred CCC route was similar to the DBFOM model — but with crucial differences. He added: “First of all, it’s a bespoke solution, a made-to-measure solution. We have CCC who are guaranteeing delivery on time, on budget and on specification, which is a large risk reduction.” Mr Richards said that could come with the DBFOM option. But he added: “We would never get the guarantee of quality we do with the Canadian government. It’s a much less expensive product and also reduces the construction risk and we get something we can afford. And Mr Richards said: “We’ve heard a lot of complaints about this entity running our airport for 30 years. When you have a situation where it’s completely off balance sheet, where somebody else other than the Government is responsible for paying back that loan, that somebody is going to want to some control over how the operation goes. Our detractors will say we have a public/private partnership at the hospital, where the hospitals board is still operating the facility. The difference between the hospital and the airport is the Bermuda Government is responsible for the debt of the hospital. That debt is on our books. With the airport, that would not be. That’s why we have to have the operate and maintain part.” He added that a request for proposal in the normal tender style would cost “tens of millions” to prepare, but with the risk that either there were no qualified bids or no one would bid at all. Mr Richards said: “This is why we have gone the route we have gone. The airport will continue to belong to Bermuda. The new terminal that will be built will belong to Bermuda. The asset will belong to the people of Bermuda, but there are some people who are not the people of Bermuda who will operate it.” Mr Richards said that a quango would be formed to police the management of the new terminal and have final say on any proposed increases in fees. Aecon would be unable to sell its interest in the management company without the quango’s permission. The Bermuda Government will manage the manager. Continuing to patch up the existing terminal was not a realistic option." The report said that 2013 estimates said that near-term repairs would amount to $62.3 million, with a further $104.8 million needed for improvements, as well as ongoing maintenance costs. Mr Richards said: “It will cost us a fortune and expose Bermuda to risks that are not acceptable. On top of that we will run the risk of having the airport be offline for significant periods. The combination of costs and that risk means that it was an unacceptable option. Whether it’s a hurricane, flooding or the roof falling in because of termites, it’s just not acceptable.”
2016. August 14. The Bermuda Government’s sole-source deal for a new airport terminal has been defended as the only way to avoid extra debt, according to Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance. Mr Richards was responding to the latest critique of the proposal by the Progressive Labour Party — which came in a hard-hitting joint statement by Acting Leader of the Opposition David Burt with shadow transport minister Lawrence Scott. The Opposition on Thursday maintained that the island could not afford the proposal with the Canadian contractor, Aecon, and again charged Mr Richards with misleading the public and dismissing concerns. In a statement earlier today, Mr Richards took on the PLP’s contention that a significant amount of funding would be required of the Government. “That is not true,” the minister responded, saying the public “should not be deceived by innuendo, false allegations and political rhetoric”. Mr Richards maintained that the Government had shown greater transparency on the project than it had for “any other development in Bermuda’s history”, and defended the deal, backed financially by the Canadian Government through the Canadian Commercial Corporation, as the best way of avoiding financial risk. According to Mr Richards, the only expenditure would be about $6 million raised by the Airport Improvement Fee, approved by legislators in August 2015. He noted that the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce had approved of the selection of Aecon and CCC, although the statement earlier this week by chamber president John Wight also questioned the Government’s rationale in not putting the project out to tender. “The reasons we didn’t put this out to tender — as we have discussed in the past — is because we would have then had to add to the national debt to pay for it, which we are in no position to do,” Mr Richards said. “We would have never been able to control cost overruns for the project and the tax payer would again be on the hook for it all. Our plan transfers such risks away from the taxpayer.” Although he said some $13 million had been budgeted for the project while it was under negotiation, that spending was “now not necessary”. Mr Richards insisted that renovating the existing terminal, borrowing to rebuild, or putting the project out to tender for building, operating and maintenance, would ultimately impair the island’s credit and increase the cost of its debt. He said the agreement with the Canadian Government shifted construction risks onto the other partner, and had been chosen as the affordable strategy. With the present structure deteriorating, Mr Richards said it would burden the Government with millions of spending in the near to long-term future, and cost about $400 million to refurbish in its entirety. In Thursday’s statement, Mr Burt decried the terms of the project as “a sole-source contract valued at over $1 billion to a Canadian company that will get free electricity” as well as “a taxpayer guaranteed return of 16 per cent”. While Mr Richards conceded that a profit would be made by Aecon and the Projectco entity created for the new terminal, he defended the 16 per cent margin as “market standard. The Project Agreement also specifies that any profit greater than that will be split 50-50 with the Government of Bermuda,” he added, saying the Government would effectively stand as a partner with Aecon. The two parties have sparred over the project’s necessity since the initial proposal was signed in November 2014, with the Opposition repeatedly attacking its lack of tender and financing terms.
2016. August 11. The Bermuda Government let its airport development proposal fall into controversy because of its “communications issues”, the Chamber of Commerce has claimed. However, the Chamber gave its backing to the Government to proceed with a new terminal, which it says Bermuda needs. The proposal has been challenged by the Progressive Labour Party since the initial deal with Canadian Commercial Corporation was announced in November 2014. In particular, the Government’s decision not to put the project out to tender has been unpopular with grass roots movements such as the People’s Campaign, which likened it to “economic slavery” in an announcement last week. “One of the objectives of the Chamber of Commerce is to take leadership positions on issues that are of interest and importance to our members,” said John Wight, president of the organisation. “The proposed airport development meets the criteria for a project that is of significance to Bermuda and the members of the chamber. The executive thus felt we should opine on it.” The Opposition renewed its attack on Monday, accusing the Government of giving a deal to the contractor, Aecon, at the island’s expense, but Mr Wight said the timing of the chamber’s release was unrelated. “Summer vacation schedules had more to do with the timing of the release than anything else,” he said. The chamber’s main concern over the $250 million proposal for L.F. Wade International Airport related to transparency over choosing a vendor, Mr Wight said in a statement issued yesterday — even though the party selected was “a well-considered choice. They, through their primary contractor, have successfully built many large infrastructure projects, including airports. Collectively, they have a proven track record. And they have the financial backing of the Canadian Government. What is not as clear is whether a formal request for proposal process should have been conducted in order to enhance transparency for the benefit of Bermudian taxpayers to provide comfort and confidence that the vendor selected and procurement strategy was optimal for Bermuda." A competitive RFP would ensure value for money, the statement continued — encouraging the Government to benchmark Bermuda’s deal with comparable proposals. Mr Wight said the Chamber’s board, along with many of its members, felt “strongly” that the new airport terminal was needed, citing “very high maintenance costs” along with the present terminal’s vulnerability to hurricanes. As the island’s primary link to the outside world, it would show that the island was “serious about tourism and international business”. With three or four years before the completion of a new terminal, the chamber said that its necessity would not be in doubt by the time of completion. Noting the transfer of risks off the “overburdened” public purse, the chamber pointed out the payment model’s similarity to the arrangement that brought the hospital’s new acute care wing to fruition. “The decision to contract with a reputable third party to build a new terminal and maintain it into the future for Bermuda is a reasonable one in the chamber’s opinion.
2016. August 11. A Progressive Labour Party government would not pull the plug on the proposal for a new airport terminal, according to David Burt, the Acting Leader of the Opposition. “A lot of times in the community, it’s said that if the PLP return to the Government, we will cancel it — we’ve already seen the repercussions on the public when the Government cancels,” Mr Burt said, referencing the controversial decision in March 2014 to scrap plans for the redevelopment of the Hamilton waterfront. It would not be responsible for a PLP government to say that we would be able to cancel the deal.” In the hypothetical event that the Opposition were to “become Government tomorrow”, Mr Burt said the key step would be to put the project out to bid so that the contractor, Aecon, would have to compete. Mr Burt was joined by Lawrence Scott, the Shadow Minister of Transport, who said the PLP’s priority would have been to create an independent Airport Authority first, to hold operational control of LF Wade International Airport and vet potential bidders. Both said the proposal could yet be turned away by legislators. Mr Burt took a tough line against Minister of Finance Bob Richards, accusing him of engaging in 20 months of “misleading statements, fabrications, half-truths and lies” about the project — although he said that the need for something to be done to the existing airport had never been in doubt. Bermuda would inevitably have to put up “a significant amount of funding”, he said, possibly through raising taxes, which the Shadow Minister of Finance said had been a source of private concern for international business. The lack of open tendering, criticised earlier in the week by the Chamber of Commerce, once again stood out as a top concern. Mr Burt said he awaited the release of a letter of entrustment, required by the UK Government, which would offer a comprehensive assessment of the project. The island’s business community needed to examine the numbers, he added. Mr Scott has called for the creation of an Airport Authority since March 2014, and yesterday he accused the minister of pushing the airport redevelopment to the detriment of more worthy causes. Mr Richards has repeatedly described the ageing facility as rundown and prohibitively expensive to maintain in its current form. Mr Scott said the project was “not something that we can afford”, and accused Mr Richards of “constant dismissal” of the peoples’ concerns. “If you are against this deal, like the majority of this population, I am here to tell you what is coming down the pipeline. This is nowhere near a done deal.” With further legislation to go through Parliament, Mr Scott said there was still a last chance to stop it. “If we do not, we will find ourselves with Aecon giving and setting revenue guarantees for airlines.”
2016. August 4. A concerned citizens group known as MOVE (mobilize, organise, visualize, execute), aligned with the People’s Campaign, will voice their opposition of the planned redevelopment of the L.F. Wade International Airport by Canadian company Aecon/CCC at a meeting at BIU headquarters this evening. Starting at 6.00pm, the meeting will see People’s Campaign representatives present a special report concerning the airport project. Titled “A Bad Deal for Bermuda”, the report aims to raise awareness about the redevelopment. According to a MOVE statement released this morning, discussion will centre on a number of topics including:
Hard copies of the special report are available at the BIU.
2016. August 1. Activist group the People’s Campaign has published a comprehensive special report detailing its objections to the airport redevelopment. Titled A Bad Deal for Bermuda, the 69-page document is be available electronically and in hard copy from the Bermuda Industrial Union. At a press conference yesterday, church leader the Reverend Nicholas Tweed condemned the Bermuda Government’s deal with Canadian construction firm Aecon to redevelop L.F. Wade International Airport, at an approximate cost of $250 million. “One-hundred and eighty-two years after the abolition of slavery in Bermuda, we are now faced with sentencing the island to economic slavery. By this report, we are making a clarion call for us to emancipate ourselves from this bad deal for Bermuda.” Jason Hayward, president of the Bermuda Public Service Union, promised that the report would highlight how the Government was “seduced” into a deal by Aecon, as well as delving into cost implications, transparency problems, documentation deficiencies and conflicting statements from Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance. Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert criticised the “outrageous” price of the planned airport. “You’re talking about $1,000 per square foot,” he said. “How could that be good value for money? Most of it’s open space.” The report, which Mr Furbert confirmed was written and compiled by the People’s Campaign team, accuses the Government of dismissing the people’s concerns and snubbing “demands for answers to basic questions relating to how the deal is structured. In spite of public opposition from across the spectrum, the Government has doggedly continued to ignore the people it was elected to serve, as it sells off the birthright of future generations of Bermudians. The purpose of this report is to keep the critical, unanswered questions concerning this deal in the public domain, and to query a process that is shrouded in secrecy. It appears that every effort is being made to keep the Bermudian people in the dark, until reaching a point of no return, and ultimately resulting in the people resigning themselves to the inevitability of a project.”
2016. July 14. Developers have unveiled the first design images for the proposed redevelopment of Bermuda’s airport. The new steel and glass terminal building will be set back at the far west or Stone Crusher Corner end of the present runway and will be built on higher ground to reduce the risk of flooding. The facility will continue to house pre-clearance for US customs and immigration as well as enclosed passenger bridges to aircraft. Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, and Senator Michael Fahy, the Minister of Transport and Tourism, joined Martin Zablocki, president of Canadian Commercial Corporation, and Steve Nackan, president of Aecon Concessions, for the official unveiling of the renderings at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute. Mr Nackan described the design as “smart and beautiful” and maintained it was “consistent with Bermuda’s global brand and identity”. He also revealed plans for a putting green and nature trail outside the airport, adding: “Bermudian culture is on display throughout, including kites and indigenous birds suspended from the ceiling. The airport will be surrounded by lush landscaping using indigenous flora compatible with and complementing Bermuda’s ecosystem, as well as sustainable water features to create an invigorating outdoor experience that travelers can enjoy on an expansive patio. Plants will be sourced and grown on the island and landfill will be repurposed from the existing property. The design we are unveiling today marks an important milestone in the project’s progress as it represents a shared vision resulting from many months of collaboration and consultation with community stakeholders.” Mr Nackan said the project would be a “vital generator of local employment opportunities” both in construction and operations “where the majority of employees will be Bermudian”. Mr Zablocki insisted the project would be delivered “on time and on budget”. Mr Richards described the latest development in the airport redevelopment project as a “very good day” for the island. He maintained that ground would be broken on the $250 million project by the end of the year and said that the new facility should be operational 40 months later. “I encourage everyone to come out and meet some of the people involved and ask questions so that you can truly understand the unique value of the proposals and the design,” Mr Richards said. Mr Fahy added: “We’re not just designing an airport, we’re building Bermuda’s future.” The new airport designs will be on display at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute today and Saturday between 9am and 5pm. They will be then be moved to the Port Royal Golf Course on July 18 from 5.30pm to 8.30pm and on to Penno’s Wharf in St George on July 19 at the same time.
2016. July 13. A group of about 15 protesters gathered outside the L.F. Wade International Airport this morning to protest against the airport development, immigration and new legislation permitting rental cars on the island. The protest was organized by Move — a group of concerned citizens. Chairman of the group, Willie Ferguson, was handing out leaflets and issued an official statement outlining their cause. It said: “We say shame on OBA for rewarding the people of this island with extreme poor leadership which has dashed their hopes, their dreams and aspirations for a better quality of life.” Among the issues raised are education, immigration, institutional racism, the airport, employment, seniors’ quality of life and the Motor Car Amendment Act. The statement continued: “We find this island being led as if by drunken sailors with no moral compass. We are betrayed by stealth legislation, brought forward, so that kith and kin will benefit at the expense of hardworking Bermudians. We are referring to the Motor Car Amendment Act of 2016 which is a slap in the face of every taxi driver, the cycle livery businesses, buses, ferries and even gas stations island-wide with the introduction of electric rentals. We hold our breath as we watch Premier Michael Dunkley speak about job creation and yet have no control over his Cabinet ministers as they carry out their own agendas. Shame on you for promising us hope when the OBA’s own betrayals continue to cause despair among residents all over this island. The people of Bermuda are deserving of superb and equitable service. These have been the shortcomings of the OBA since taking office in December 17, 2012. Therefore, you have failed the leadership test miserably. We shall remember this at the 2017 election poll.” Promotional literature being distributed to passer-bys is titled For Lease: By the Bermuda Government to the Canadian Commercial Corporation Company” under a picture of the airport.
2016. July 8. Finance minister Bob Richards stands by his claims that financial instructions were fully adhered to with regards to the Bermuda Government’s deal to build a new airport in light of a new memo that surfaced at the last Public Accounts Committee meeting. A fresh war of words on the controversial multimillion dollar airport deal is expected to erupt in the House of Assembly today, when acting Opposition leader David Burt takes the Deputy Premier to task over the memo. The document dated March 16, 2016 was sent from Accountant-General Curtis Stovell to financial secretary Anthony Manders and reiterates claims from Mr Stovell that when he gave permission for government to pursue a deal with the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC), he was not agreeing to the entire project, merely the early stages. It read: “I was initially of the understanding that it was CCC who introduced Aecon to this transaction. My read of this is that Aecon was the intended construction partner, which was not my initial understanding when the CCC Letter Agreement was provided to me.” Speaking on the memo PAC chairman David Burt said that this was because the Ministry of Finance did not provide complete information which he described as “extraordinary. What reason would the Minister of Finance have for not providing the information to the Accountant-General?” Mr Burt queried. “All I can speak to is the fact that the information was not provided. I think it’s an indictment of the Minister of Finance and the entire airport deal. It’s astounding.” However, Mr Richards asserted that while lessons could be learnt in retrospect in terms of better communication going forward, the document signed off by Mr Stovell described the entire process. Mr Richards told this newspaper: “Quite frankly I cannot account for what the Accountant-General thought I can only account for what is written on a particular document that authorised the whole process and has his signature on it. What he thought and what he didn’t think is a matter for him — I can be held accountable for the dictates of financial instructions and we have fulfilled those requirements. If he had a misunderstanding he should have asked questions certainly.” Asked whether there could be a better system put in place to avoid such confusion in the future, Mr Richards responded: “To some extent this has been a learning process for everyone. I don’t think anyone in Bermuda knew about the CCC model — knowing what we know now perhaps we could have explained it better but I don’t think that really counts for much here.” Mr Richards went on to describe the issue of whether CCC or Aecon showed an interest in an airport deal as a “red herring” saying: “The transaction is a transaction between two governments and therefore irrespective of who said what in Canada to whom, that was not the transaction. The transaction didn’t start until officials from the Bermuda Government heard about this model and traveled to Toronto to find out about it. If Aecon was reading my budget speech which said that we want to redevelop our airport or someone in Canada Googled it, who cares because that person never contacted the Bermuda Government. Anything else was irrelevant. Aecon never contacted the Bermuda Government or me before I went to Toronto I didn’t even know they existed quite frankly. We had to sign this letter of agreement to set about getting that waiver and we got it so as far as I am concerned its case closed — anything else is just politics and political rhetoric for what that’s worth and I don’t think it’s worth much.” Mr Burt, Acting Opposition Leader, said he planned to raise the issue of the memo in the House today. “This is a public document. Absolutely I plan on making an issue of it because I find it absolutely extraordinary. The Accountant-General is saying I was provided with incorrect, incomplete information, when the Minister of Finance was clear in knowing that Aecon brought the deal to the table. “It calls into question the very essential, legal basis of this contract.” The shadow finance minister said the memo showed the Accountant-General, whose permission is necessary to bypass official financial instructions, was “in no way shape or form in the loop”.
2016. July 4. Leaking roofs, rats, rust and graphic footage of storm damage were aired last night in a Bermuda government documentary on the state of the island’s ageing airport terminal. Describing the existing terminal for L.F Wade International Airport as an “old, tired, crumbling structure in a poor location”, the 30-minute film was put together by the government television station CITV. The proposal to build a fresh terminal in a new location has been under political fire since the deal for a public-private partnership with the Canadian Commercial Corporation was announced. Town hall meetings on the proposal have drawn often emotional members of the public. But the film, titled On Borrowed Time, features substantial time with Aaron Adderley, general manager for the Department of Airport Operations, who points out that an airport master plan was in the process of completion when he joined the DAO in 2006 — and it “concluded that the existing building had reached its life expectancy”. Mr Adderley describes the terminal as “70-plus years old” and still bearing the scars of 2003, when Hurricane Fabian brought in 3ft of seawater that leaves its escalators “often out of commission” today. A film taken by a Customs officer after Hurricane Fay in 2014 shows extensive flooding from a burst pipe, as sodden roof tiles fall from the ceiling. Wendell Burchall, the manager of maintenance and engineering, testifies to recurring problems in public areas, while Eugene Crockwell of Cedar Aviation speaks of leaks, vermin, soot and heat in behind-the-scenes facilities. “It is fair to say that the budget allocation that we have today is simply insufficient to address shortcomings from a maintenance standpoint,” Mr Adderley tells the camera. The facility’s history, dating back to the 1940s, is described as one of piecemeal add-ons that fit together poorly, resulting in a terminal plagued by leaks: floods in the arrivals corridor can reach a depth of 6in, according to Mr Burchall, with soot-laden winds of 50 - 60mph whipping in. According to Mr Adderley, upwards of 800,000 passengers a year pass through the existing terminal. “There’s a tremendous amount of strain placed on this building’s infrastructure,” Mr Adderley adds, while the documentary cuts frequently to reports from 2006 and 2008 by the HNTB Corporation that concluded the terminal’s time was up — and that redeveloping the existing site would be a more expensive option. The film, presented by the Ministry of Tourism, Transport and Municipalities, aired last night on ZBM and will show also on the CITV station.
2016. June 28. Legislation paving the way for the creation of a Civil Aviation Authority and a Bermuda Shipping and Maritime Authority was passed by MPs on Friday afternoon. The Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority Act 2016 provides the new CAA with quango status in a bid to boost revenue from the Bermuda Registry of Aircraft. Grant Gibbons, the Minister of Economic Development, told the House of Assembly that the new Act would make Bermuda more competitive in the global aviation market. However, Lawrence Scott, shadow Minister of Transport, expressed a string of concerns about the creation of the CAA, claiming the Bermuda Government was making the CAA answer to the minister. He also questioned why the Minister of Finance should be involved in appointing members of the board. “Government should not have any say over civil aviation,” Mr Scott said. “They are trying to go outside their jurisdiction. This Bill falls short of doing what it is intended to do because the Government is too involved compared to other jurisdictions.” However, One Bermuda Alliance MP Shawn Crockwell explained that Bermuda’s CAA would be based on the UK’s CAA model, in which the authority answered to the Ministry of Transport. Mr Crockwell described Mr Scott’s assertions as “erroneous” adding: “We must put in the proper infrastructure so the authority and the register can grow. The register must operate like a business and Government must be prudent to make sure we do not lose this revenue.” Finance minister Bob Richards told the House that the new legislation was designed to boost revenue to the consolidated fund. Meanwhile, the Bermuda Shipping and Maritime Authority Act 2016 will see the Department of Maritime Administration also given quango status. Dr Gibbons said the Bermuda Shipping and Maritime Authority will help the island compete more effectively in the growing shipping sector. “This Bill is intended to create an efficient, competitive and economically viable shipping registry that can meet the modern-day customer demands as well as the relevant national and international standards,” he added. According to Dr Gibbons, Bermuda presently commands a fleet of 170 ships with more than 13 million gross tonnes. “The revenue earned by the DMA as fees from the registration of ships and other services provides is approximately $5 million annually with a net surplus of nearly $3 million annually.” But compared with other international registries, Dr Gibbons said Bermuda’s tonnage “is rather small, which provides the DMA great opportunity for expansion. With the proposed amendments in this bill, the DMA believes they should be able to compete more effectively and enhance Bermuda’s shipping opportunities. After a number of difficult years, the global economy is now slowly growing and the shipping sector is expected to grow at a rate of 5 per cent per annum. Bermuda needs to be ready to compete and get a fair share of this tonnage.”
2016. June 23. The debate over the Bermuda Government’s airport development plan continued in the Senate yesterday, with the One Bermuda Alliance members challenging the suggestion that a new terminal was not needed. However, Opposition senate leader Marc Daniels reiterated that the Government must ensure the public are getting value for money. Opening the debate on the motion to adjourn, OBA senator Vic Ball noted that when the Progressive Labour Party was in power, an airport master plan was commissioned which found it was more cost-effective to build a new airport terminal rather than renovate the existing airport. “I’m trying to understand why they have said that it’s better to renovate the airport when their own plan says it’s better to build an new one,” Senator Ball said. Responding, Senator Daniels said that he did not know the details of the plan created by the PLP government or who prepared the report, saying that the question remained if the Government was truly getting the best possible deal. “There are a lot of concern from members of the community about how the OBA is pursuing its plan,” he said. Fellow PLP senator Renee Ming, meanwhile, mentioned the issue in her own closing speech, noting that the Government seems to be pushing ahead with the redevelopment project despite 75 per cent of the public being against the plan. The OBA’s Georgia Marshall returned the conversation to the PLP master plan, which she claimed had estimated the cost of a new terminal building to be $424 million, compared to $476 million for refurbishments to the existing terminal. While she had previously given a figure of $115 million for refurbishment costs, she clarified that the figure would only include roof and mechanical repair work. “This Government is doing all it can to ensure the project we undertake will be on time, on budget and on spec,” Senator Marshall said.
2016. June 16. Progressive Labour Party Senate leader Marc Daniels yesterday accused the Government of employing “parlor tricks” during the latest row over airport redevelopment plans. Speaking in the Senate, he criticised the One Bermuda Alliance for its refusal to release full details of the Airport Redevelopment Agreement, as it hashes out negotiations on the $250 million L.F. Wade International Airport project with the Canadian Commercial Corporation. “I personally don’t think it’s right that the current deal is being dealt with in such a confidential manner,” he said. Sen Daniels compared the issue to a lawyer withholding crucial information from his or her client. “We’re not talking about a tender process where various numbers are being touted; we are negotiating with one (corporation). Why any terms would be concealed makes no sense. It almost neglects why the OBA were voted in: to serve people.” Sen Daniels mocked the Government’s argument that a modernized airport would bolster visitors’ first impressions of Bermuda. “I don’t know a single tourist to Miami or New York who has talked about the airports as their first impression,” he said. “I just find the politics to be almost childlike. All I see is a whole lot of parlor-tricking to advance something where the people are showing a lot of trepidation.” Senator Michael Fahy, the Minister of Tourism, Transport and Municipalities, hit back at Sen Daniels’ claims, saying that the new project “doesn’t have to be a JFK (airport). Anybody that negotiates contracts has to keep certain things confidential,” he said, “so to suggest something is being hidden is parlor tricks in itself. I think the Opposition knows that. It’s a good horse to ride, but it’s the wrong one.” Sen Fahy pointed out that the airport’s infrastructure lifespan ended in 2008, something which had been forewarned in a report ordered by the PLP. “The fact that they commissioned a report tells you that they knew there was something seriously wrong at that airport. The Opposition knows that the airport as it exists is a joke. It’s a terrible place to work and an unsustainable building. What I have not heard from the Opposition, who are being so nitpicky, is an alternative vision. Give us something that will work for the people of Bermuda. The OBA was put into power to fix things, which we are doing, despite all the noise.”
2016. June 9. Representatives from the Bermuda Industrial Union and Menzies Aviation are meeting after a dispute involving ramp workers at LF Wade International Airport. Some staff at the private company, which is contracted by airlines to provide ground handling services, stopped work today due to a negotiation dispute over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. A spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism, Transport and Municipalities said that flights will continue as normal, as Menzies has enough remaining workers and management to process flights. “There has been no disruption or delays to scheduled flights as a result of the action,” he added.
2016. June 6. Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, has defended his position in face of accusations that he did not adhere to financial instructions over the release of key information about the Bermuda Government’s airport plans. Shadow minister and chairman of the Public Accounts Committee David Burt took Mr Richards to task in the House of Assembly over details he believes should be released with regards to the deal with Canadian Commercial Corporation. Accountant-General Curtis Stovell originally maintained that while he had waived protocol in the Government’s early dealings with CCC, he was not asked for later waivers in writing, hence financial instructions had not been adhered to. However, in December 2015, financial secretary Anthony Manders insisted that Mr Stovell’s approval at the start had covered the entire deal with CCC — including CCC’s selection of Aecon, a Canadian contracting company, to build a new terminal at LF Wade International Airport. In Friday’s House session, Mr Richards read out a quote from Mr Stovell that was printed in a Royal Gazette article on December 18, 2015. In the article, Mr Stovell conceded that communication should have been much better than it was, but said he had since been given the necessary information. Mr Richards read Mr Stovell’s quote that Mr Stovell was “not saying that we are not currently in compliance”. Mr Burt said he did not see reference to the quote in the official transcript and challenged Mr Richards to produce the evidence at a later date. Mr Burt said: “The Government is able to set their policy, however it is our responsibility to hold them accountable. He [Mr Richards] is frustrating the will of the elected body, he has delayed on a request by your very own PAC committee meeting which was passed unanimously, and now he has ignored a summons which was voted on in another meeting. Nothing from the civil servants, nothing from the minister, all we hear is we have to get Aecon’s permission.” Mr Richards retorted: “His story is that the Bermuda Government has not got the permission of the Accountant-General for waivers for financial instructions — he keeps saying that we are operating outside of financial instructions and that is not correct.” The minister then made reference to another situation it reminded him where Mr Burt was unable to “differentiate between truth and fiction.” He raised the issue of Mr Burt’s previous assertions that members of the One Bermuda Alliance had not contacted him about being unable to attend a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee meeting, when in fact, they had. Mr Burt accused Mr Richards of misleading the House, saying that members had even claimed they would be turning up to lay motions. But Mr Richards pushed on: “The honourable member can’t seem to differentiate between truth and fiction because he said that he had not been communicated to by them and then when The Royal Gazette reporter produced the e-mails that they sent him he said, ‘oh yes’. You can’t have it both ways.” When Speaker of the House Randy Horton disciplined Mr Richards for calling into question Mr Burt’s integrity, the minister said “I am not commenting on his integrity, I am commenting on his veracity” to which Mr Horton said there was little difference.
2016. May 31. Canadian developer Aecon’s 35 per cent stake in Bermuda’s proposed new airport terminal will come primarily from borrowing rather than from equity capital, according to Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance. The minister added that the island would likely have taken a hit from ratings agencies if the Bermuda Government had sought to borrow the full sum on its own. Mr Richards told The Royal Gazette that the new terminal, which will be built by a special purpose company called Project Co, will be backed by others as well as Aecon, which will have a 35 per cent minimum equity. “They will also be looking for other equity partners to finish off the equity ownership of Project Co,” the minister said. “But most of the capital for the terminal will be debt capital, not equity capital. It will be borrowed by Project Co, as a bond issue in international markets.” Institutional investors will be able to invest as partners with Aecon, he said, or invest in the debt. “The equity amount is a small piece of the total finance. Aecon will have to invest their own cash to the extent that they will at least have to own 35 per cent of the equity. But the equity will be a small part of the capital.” Mr Richards spoke to The Royal Gazette in the wake of details given on the project’s financing, in response to parliamentary questions. He stressed that “the only thing Aecon will own — or have an equity ownership in — is Project Co, the company that has the management contract. They will not have any equity ownership in the airport or the terminal itself. That will continue to be 100 per cent owned by the Government of Bermuda.” MPs heard on Friday that the profit target for a new airport terminal was estimated at about 15 to 16 per cent. “When you invest in a project, you want to have a target — a way to return on your investment,” he said. “That is not the same as the interest rate that the Bermuda Government would pay.” Mr Richards said that the Opposition had implied that the Government “could borrow money for a lot less than 15 per cent”, adding: “But we’re comparing apples and oranges. The 15 to 16 per cent is the return on equity, that Aecon can get on the equity portion. What if the Bermuda Government were to borrow the money, $250 million, and just build it the old-fashioned way? We would get downgraded by S&P and Moody’s, we estimate by two notches. In being downgraded, we would have to pay more interest on the amount of money that the Government itself owes. And if we get downgraded, the local banks get downgraded too.”
2016. May 26. Bermudian engineering company Brunel has won a contract for structural and civil engineering at the airport redevelopment. The firm was appointed by Canadian company Aecon, the lead firm in the airport project. Steve Nackan, the president of Aecon Concessions, said: “We engaged Brunel because they have a valuable perspective to offer this project. The team has extensive knowledge of local construction practices, permit processes, planning and building codes, and, of course, Bermuda’s culture and environment which will impact the airport’s design.” Brunel will help with design documentation, drawings and details, advise on local conditions as well as assist with design related to transport like buses, taxis and scooters. The Bermuda firm will also work with other global engineering teams to ensure that the new airport’s construction will be in line with Bermudian culture. Jamie Pehkonen of Brunel said: “We look forward to collaborating with a truly global team of experts to make this important project a reality for the island. Our technical as well as local expertise makes us an ideal partner to help build a modern airport befitting Bermuda.” The main structural engineering firm for the project is Quinn Dressel from Toronto and the lead civil engineering company is the Toronto arm of global consulting company WSP. The redevelopment of the airport is a joint venture between the governments of Bermuda and Canada, with the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a Crown corporation of the Canadian government with expertise in international contracting for major building projects.
2016. May 19. The One Bermuda Alliance faced another demonstration — as well as tough questions from its own supporters — over the airport redevelopment yesterday. More than 100 people, many chanting and waving placards, gathered outside City Hall to protest against the Bermuda Government and Canadian developer Aecon’s $250 million plan. Inside the building, finance minister Bob Richards faced a series of probing questions from OBA members after he delivered a presentation on the subject. Even the choice of venue became a source of controversy, with the City of Hamilton announcing shortly beforehand that its building should not be used for political purposes and they had been unaware of the meeting. However, it went ahead in the Bermuda National Gallery and, although OBA members later acknowledged Mr Richards had provided good information, many were said to still have qualms at the end. The minister repeated his pledge to reveal all after the deal is finalized at the end of the summer, and once again stressed the urgency of upgrading L.F. Wade International Airport. Many protesters outside were upset that the meeting was for OBA members only but Mr Richards later told The Royal Gazette he had said nothing that he had not said in previous meetings. “I will continue to talk to small groups,” he said. “I will have a number of meetings to the public when there is some real, substantial progress to report. I haven’t conveyed anything to these folks that I haven’t conveyed before publicly. It’s just that the noise has drowned out the message. In this case I was able to have a message that was not drowned out by noise.” Other Cabinet ministers present included Michael Dunkley, the Premier, Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, Craig Cannonier and Senator Jeff Baron. Before entering the meeting, Mr Dunkley told this newspaper: “The people are entitled to the freedom of speech, but it’s got to be done in the right way. Intimidation and all of that just doesn’t wash in today’s world.” Leaving the meeting, the Premier said: “The people inside are enjoying the session, and I applaud them for coming out and having to put up with some extracurricular activities on the way.” Campaigners were carrying placards with slogans such as “Enough is enough” and “We’re tired of being hoodwinked”, and chants included “Aecon is a con” and “No airport deal”. About 20 police officers were present throughout the evening, but the event remained peaceful. One protester, Sandi Gilbert from Pembroke, told this newspaper: “We don’t think the airport should be going through, and I think it’s wrong that the OBA are having a meeting with their members to discuss what they’re doing with the airport when they should be telling the people.” Meanwhile, a 78-year-old demonstrator questioned the cost of the heavy police presence, asking: “Is the bill being sent to the organizers of the meeting? Don’t tell me to pay taxes to a police officer to perform a function where I’m restricted from going in. It’s not fair.” Some also criticised Hamilton mayor Charles Gosling for allowing City Hall to be used for the occasion. “This place is not supposed to be rented out to a political party. Now they’re banning the public that pays to keep this place running,” one female protester said. At about 3pm, a few hours before Mr Richards was due to begin his presentation, the City of Hamilton released a statement saying: “The City of Hamilton has a policy that does not allow for events of a political nature to be held at City Hall or on/in any other City-owned property. The City regrets the fact that one of its tenants was unaware of this policy. We have taken steps to ensure that they are fully informed. City Hall continues to adhere to said policy and looks forward to receiving its tenants’ support moving forward.” Chief operating officer Edward Benevides later added: “The Bermuda National Gallery has rented out their area to a private function which they are entitled to do without having to get the landlord’s permission. Had they been aware of the policy they may or may not have asked us if they could move forward. However, they were not and accepted a rental of their space. Going forward I am certain there will be more dialogue between tenant and landlord to determine an amicable way forward that will allow their funding efforts and prove to be less embarrassing to the landlord.” The Bermuda Police Service said in a statement: “The Bermuda Police Service were made aware thereafter that planned protests were to take place at this same location in objection to the OBA’s plans to construct a new airport. Police attended City Hall in anticipation of a peaceful protest. We have an excellent professional relationship with the Corporation and committed to working with them to ensure the event took place in a manner that was both lawful and safe for participants and visitors to City Hall alike.”
2016. May 19. Bob Richards faced streams of questions from concerned One Bermuda Alliance members at the airport redevelopment meeting last night. One source at the meeting said about 15 people took turns to quiz the finance minister, most of whom aired reservations. “I don’t think those qualms were alleviated, but we did have explanations,” said the source. At one point, an audience member expressed his fears at what would happen if the deal with Canadian developer Aecon was to go wrong. Acknowledging the man was upset, Mr Richards stressed that the island needs a new airport, and that the proposed arrangement is the only way to do it without putting it on Bermuda’s bank balance. The source said that 40 or 50 OBA members attended the meeting, adding: “As we entered the building people were screaming and shouting at us and getting in our face, saying ‘we don’t need an airport’.” The meeting, which lasted more than an hour, was said to have been informational, although Mr Richards told the group he could not reveal all the facts as the contract is still not finalized. That should change by the end of the summer, he said. The minister underlined the necessity for the development, saying that otherwise it would cost more than $100 million in renovations that would still not adequately fix some of the airport’s existing problems. Aecon and the Government will eventually have a profit-sharing agreement, Mr Richards said.
2016. May 13. JetBlue Airways has condemned Lawrence Scott for attempting “to mislead the community” as to why he lost his supervisor job with the airline. The New York-based operator, which normally does not comment on employment matters in the media, departed from protocol to denounce the Progressive Labour Party MP’s claims that he was fired for political reasons. JetBlue corporate communications manager Elizabeth Ninomiya added that the company was looking forward to exposing the truth behind the shadow transport minister’s termination once the matter reaches court. But Mr Scott rejected the allegations of “serious misconduct” and challenged his former employers to say exactly what that “misconduct” was. Yesterday morning, Ms Ninomiya contacted The Royal Gazette to issue the following statement: “JetBlue takes seriously its responsibility to offer crew members a respectful and fair workplace. In any case where crew member misconduct is suspected, a full investigation is conducted before the crew member can be separated from the company. Public claims by Mr Scott that his termination was based on factors other than his own non-compliance with JetBlue policies are an attempt to mislead the community on the realities surrounding this case. JetBlue does not intend to engage in public arguments on this matter and respects the process set forth by the judicial system in Bermuda. We look forward to presenting the court with the facts, which will demonstrate that Mr Scott’s termination was based solely on serious misconduct during his employment with JetBlue.” Last night Mr Scott questioned what JetBlue’s investigation had revealed about his claims that a senior representative from the airline’s governmental affairs team had told him the company was receiving pressure from Aecon as a result of his opposition to the airport redevelopment. He added: “It is interesting that they talk about a full investigation having been conducted because I would like to know what that has revealed. I would also like to know why, having previously said they do not comment on individual cases, they have now come out and made this comment. This disagreement is the reason why I am taking them to court. I maintain there was no misconduct. The timing of all of this is very coincidental and I was raised to believe there is no such thing as coincidence.” On Monday, Mr Scott claimed that he was dismissed in April due to his stance against the Government’s $250 million redevelopment of L.F. Wade International Airport. Mr Scott claimed a senior JetBlue employee told him that Aecon, the Canadian construction company handling the project, had pressured JetBlue into firing him. The official reason given for his termination, he said, related to the “charitable donation” of air tickets he had made in 2015, although a leaked copy of his termination letter suggested otherwise. The Warwick South East MP, who has filed for wrongful dismissal in the Supreme Court and lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission, is being supported by his party over the matter. Acting Opposition leader David Burt said: “The PLP unreservedly condemns this unjust targeting of Mr Scott, and we will continue to stand by him as he seeks full legal redress.” Mr Scott also suggested that the move was linked to a meeting held in New York in February, attended by Michael Dunkley, the Premier, Shawn Crockwell, in his former capacity as Minister of Tourism Development and Transport, Cabinet Secretary Derrick Binns, senior JetBlue figures including chief executive officer Robin Hayes and representatives from Bermuda’s aviation and tourism industries. However, a non-political Royal Gazette source who attended the meeting confirmed on Wednesday that Mr Scott’s name did not feature in the discussions. Mr Scott’s accusations also drew the ire of the Premier, who on Wednesday said: “It is extremely concerning, regrettable and dangerous that the Opposition can publicly make false declarations and unsubstantiated allegations and try to peddle them as fact. Quite simply, the allegations are false and what is being suggested by the shadow minister did not happen.” Earlier this week, Aecon president Steve Nackan said that the issue was strictly between JetBlue and Mr Scott, and that his company was focusing on “the development of a world-class airport for Bermuda”.
2016. May 11. Lawrence Scott’s dismissal from JetBlue Airways was not discussed beforehand at a New York meeting featuring figureheads from the airline and the Bermuda Government, a source has revealed. On Monday, Mr Scott, a Progressive Labour Party MP, claimed that he had been terminated from his supervisor job at JetBlue because of his vocal opposition to the redevelopment of LF Wade International Airport. The shadow transport minister accused Canadian developer Aecon, which is scheduled to undertake the $250 million project, of strong-arming JetBlue into dismissing him from his ten-year tenure with the American airline. Mr Scott, who was suspended in March and terminated in April, has filed for wrongful dismissal in the Supreme Court and lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission over the matter. The Warwick South East MP insinuated that his firing was linked to a meeting held in New York in February, attended by Michael Dunkley, the Premier, Shawn Crockwell, in his former capacity as Minister of Tourism Development and Transport, Cabinet Secretary Derrick Binns, senior JetBlue figures including chief executive officer Robin Hayes and representatives from Bermuda’s aviation and tourism industries. However, The Royal Gazette’s source, who participated in the discussions, rejected this suggestion. The non-political source, who asked not to be named, said: “There was no conversation at any time during our visit concerning Mr Scott. “The purpose of the meeting revolved around additional airlift capacity.” Mr Dunkley also strongly refuted Mr Scott’s implication. “It is extremely concerning, regrettable and dangerous that the Opposition can publicly make false declarations and unsubstantiated allegations and try to peddle them as fact,” the Premier said. Quite simply, the allegations are false and what is being suggested by the shadow minister did not happen.” A Cabinet Office spokeswoman added that the meeting’s true purpose — to discuss the carrier’s past, present and future relationship with Bermuda — had been outlined to the media both before and after it took place. At Monday’s press conference, Mr Scott said that the reason given for his sacking at the time pertained to an unapproved donation of airline tickets he made to charity. Meanwhile, his leaked termination letter listed the following reasons for his removal: “Lying or providing false statements during an investigation; violation of safety and/or work rules; conduct detrimental to JetBlue’s best interests; and incompetence and/or misconduct, including professional misconduct.” Mr Scott was supported in his allegations by David Burt, the acting Leader of the Opposition, who described the “unjust targeting” of his party colleague as “absolutely shocking” and “quite shameful”. In response, Aecon president Steve Nackan said that his company’s focus was on “the development of a world-class airport for Bermuda”. He added: “This particular issue is strictly between JetBlue and Mr Scott.” A spokesman for JetBlue said that the company did not comment on employment matters.
2016. May 9. Shadow transport minister Lawrence Scott lost his aviation job because of his stance against the airport redevelopment, the Progressive Labour Party has claimed. At a press conference in Alaska Hall yesterday, Mr Scott said he had opened legal proceedings in the Supreme Court against JetBlue Airways after being fired from his supervisor role in April. Pending an investigation into his conduct, Mr Scott was initially suspended in March. When informed of his dismissal, he said that a human resources manager told him that the action resulted from a suspicious “charitable donation” of tickets he made on behalf of the airline in 2015. Mr Scott’s termination letter was leaked to ZBM News last month, outlining four reasons for his removal. These were: “Lying or providing false statements during an investigation; violation of safety and/or work rules; conduct detrimental to JetBlue’s best interests; and incompetence and/or misconduct, including professional misconduct.” When asked about the charges by The Royal Gazette, Mr Scott said it was unclear how they related to the sole explanation he was given for his sacking. “If the reason for my dismissal was over the donation of tickets, how do those reasons factor into that?” he asked. Acting Opposition leader David Burt said that the true reason for his party colleague’s sacking was because of pressure from Aecon, the Canadian firm that is set to redevelop L.F. Wade International Airport, because of its displeasure over his public denouncement of the government-approved project. In response, Steve Nackan, president of Aecon Concessions, said last night that Aecon’s focus was on “the development of a world-class airport for Bermuda”. Mr Nackan added: “This particular issue is strictly between JetBlue and Mr Scott.” However, Mr Burt said that “the fact that Mr Scott was targeted at his place of work is a clear violation of his constitutional and human rights”. Mr Burt described the situation as “absolutely shocking” and “quite shameful”. Mr Scott alleged that six months ago, a senior representative from JetBlue’s government affairs team had revealed to him the political machinations at play. “He informed me that the company was receiving pressure from Aecon as a result of my parliamentary and town hall speeches against the airport redevelopment,” Mr Scott said. The MP, who said it had been “a dream come true” when he joined JetBlue in 2006, claimed that he had paid “the ultimate sacrifice” with his career and vowed not to let his fellow countrymen suffer the same fate. “I’m standing here today and not backing down because I don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” he said. “That’s most important to me.” Mr Scott added that he had applied for other jobs within the aviation industry, but had not secured a new position, saying that “opportunities are limited”. He declined to expand on the allegations against him. “With this being in front of the court, I need to be mindful,” Mr Scott said. “All the details are in the court documents, and right now I would be remiss to give out such details.” Mr Burt added: “The PLP unreservedly condemns this unjust targeting of Mr Scott, and we will continue to stand by him as he seeks full legal redress.” A spokesman for JetBlue said that the company did not comment on employment matters.
2016. May 4. West End residents expressed their anger and frustration over the multimillion-dollar airport redevelopment project last night. About 50 people attended an information session hosted by the Progressive Labour Party at Sandys Secondary Middle School. Shadow transport minister Lawrence Scott, and Walter Roban, the Acting Deputy Leader and Shadow Minister of Immigration, reiterated the PLP’s concerns about the project and presented the party’s alternative plan before giving residents the opportunity to express their views and ask questions. “From what I hear tonight I think we do have a plan to let them carry on because if we didn’t want it to carry on, we would be going forward to close the Government down,” one man said, leading to other audience members voicing their agreement that the Bermuda Government should be “shut down”. Another woman said she had been at the last meeting where representatives from the Canadian construction firm Aecon were present. “I got so emotional that if I could have, I probably would have done something I would have regretted later because I had a one-on-one talk with the gentleman from Aecon. A lot of stuff that they said just didn’t make sense.” She said she was “embarrassed” that the Bermuda Government “was not there to present these people to us I am going to tell you like I told him; I don’t care what the OBA says, Bob Richards, the Governor, we are not building this airport if I have anything to say about it, we are not building it, we can’t afford it. We can’t do this, Bermuda. We have got to get up here and if we have to shut this island down like we did for immigration, we are going to shut it down because we can’t afford this.” Other residents also questioned why representatives from Aecon had been allowed to lead information sessions. “They have persons, the company that is going to do the work come in and convince us what is better for us. I would think that our Government should be able to convince us what is best for us without having foreigners that have an investment in this whole deal which will get the cream of the pie to come in and convince us that this is best for you and you won’t have to pay a thing,” one man said. “Let’s pull the plug, no is no,” another member of the audience added. “It’s time to just stand up and say they’ve got to go.” Also present at the meeting, which was moderated by Constituency 34 chairman Makai Dickerson, were West End MPs Dennis Lister, Jamahl Simmons, Kim Wilson and Michael Scott. Mr Richards, the Minister of Finance, has repeatedly defended the airport project. In a press conference following the PLP’s last meeting on the subject, he said “naked politics” was the reason for its 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”.
2016. April 28. A move to delay bringing schedules of the airport development agreement before the Public Accounts Committee has been turned down by David Burt, the chairman of the committee. At an often heated meeting of its Bermuda Government and Opposition MPs, Mr Burt said he regretted that the PAC’s investigation had descended into politics. Cole Simons of the One Bermuda Alliance proposed a motion that “we not pursue this matter until the final schedules are prepared and presented to us”. He added: “At this point, as far as public interests are concerned, it makes no sense to continue down this road because it’s still a moving target.” He asked for the withdrawal of a summons issued by Mr Burt, compelling financial secretary Anthony Manders to bring the schedules to the PAC’s next meeting on May 5. Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, has said the schedules contained commercially sensitive information that the Government had agreed not to disclose at this juncture. Mr Burt told the PAC that the motion from Mr Simons was out of order and turned it down, pointing to the committee’s unanimous agreement in November to secure a copy of the agreement. The Acting Opposition Leader added that as chairman, he had been legally within his right to issue a fresh summons after the April 14 meeting failed to go ahead. However, in response to objections from OBA MP Susan Jackson that she felt “blindsided” by Mr Burt’s actions, he agreed to keep PAC members informed via e-mail of such actions in the future. Nonetheless, Mr Burt said: “I refuse to accept that every single thing inside those schedules can’t be shared with the one committee that has oversight.” Mr Simons denied that he had been asked by Mr Richards to bring his motion before the PAC, when asked by Progressive Labour Party MP Wayne Furbert. Mr Burt told The Royal Gazette that if the minister could adequately demonstrate the sensitivity of a piece of information, he would be receptive to having it not aired in the public domain — but he would not accept them being redacted wholesale. “We can also resolve to hear matters in a private session,” he added. The committee heard that Mr Manders will be obliged to produce the schedules for the agreement at the next session, as well as detailing instances where financial instructions were not followed.
2016. April 22. Deputy Premier Bob Richards has accused the Progressive Labour Party of “naked politics” in the row over the airport redevelopment project. Mr Richards was responding to allegations made by acting Opposition leader David Burt and shadow transport minister Lawrence Scott at the PLP’s town hall meeting in St George’s on Tuesday evening, which he dubbed “a pack of lies”. Among the claims made were that the Bermudian taxpayer would foot the airport’s $90 million electricity bill over 30 years, that the new facility would be smaller than the current one and that Canadian construction firm Aecon could sell the airport whenever it desired as part of its agreement with the Government. At a press conference yesterday, Mr Richards said: “The Bermudian public should not be deceived by innuendo, false allegations and political rhetoric.” He claimed that the proposed $250 million airport would function on electricity from the new solar plant known as “The Finger”, which would be built and financed privately, and that the airport’s current Belco bills were almost $60,000 per month less than PLP estimates. Mr Richards called Mr Scott’s suggestion that the new facility would have fewer gates “patently false”, and said that the Government had already stated that the airport’s concession contract cannot be sold without its explicit permission. Regarding the Government’s refusal to share details of the airport deal with the press or public, Mr Richards stood firm that the matter should remain private until it is signed and sealed. “While businesses are in negotiation for any kind of major contract, it is the general rule that the parties sign a non-disclosure agreement to keep things confidential until a [deal]has been signed,” he said. Mr Richards also claimed that the 33 pages of the present deal which have been shared with the public to date were more than sufficient. “There has been more disclosure on this deal, prior to the deal being signed, than any other agreement in the history of this country. Yet I’m still getting pressure from the press to keep releasing more things. We’re not hiding anything, we’re conducting this in the normal course of business. 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. They are simply trying to deny the Government’s realisation of an accomplishment of this magnitude. This is further evidence that the Opposition continues to put party before country.” He also blamed the PLP for stoking bad feeling towards the airport deal. A Royal Gazette poll conducted last month revealed that 53 per cent of respondents wanted the Government to cease its dealings with the Canadian Commercial Corporation, with 37 per cent in favour of the partnership and 10 per cent unsure. When asked about widespread opposition to the redevelopment deal, Mr Richards replied: “No wonder people don’t want it, because they’re getting told a pack of lies. This project will replace a facility which, essentially, is a disgrace. We will persuade many of those [opposing the deal], once they gain an appreciation of the full facts in the face of a fusillade of misinformation. Once we get the information out there, people will support this.”
2016. April 22. Members of the Public Accounts Committee are at loggerheads over whether chairman David Burt should have ordered a senior civil servant to provide them with the full agreement on the new airport. Correspondence obtained by The Royal Gazette reveals that shadow finance minister Mr Burt told PAC members about the summons issued to financial secretary Anthony Manders at a private meeting on April 7, prompting an e-mail from government backbencher Susan Jackson the next day in which she said she was offended and “taken aback” by his actions. Meanwhile, finance minister Bob Richards told this newspaper last night: “The committee looks like it’s becoming dysfunctional. [The chairman’s] political biases are clear. If you don’t have the committee’s approval, then it becomes partisan.” Ms Jackson sent her e-mail to Mr Burt on April 8 and copied it to all committee members. She wrote: “It offends me that members were not made aware of your intention to serve this subpoena. None of us had an opportunity to provide our thoughts or give our support or refusal to proceed.” Ms Jackson said she wanted to table a motion for the summons to be withdrawn at a brief in-camera meeting of the PAC before its next public meeting on April 14. She added: “This should come as no surprise. I was taken aback at yesterday’s meeting and remain resolute as a matter of principle.” Mr Burt replied that her proposed motion was “out of order”, stating he had power under the Parliament Act 1957 to issue a summons, and had kept Randy Horton, the Speaker of the House, abreast of his actions. “Parliamentary oversight is one of the cornerstones of a functioning parliament,” wrote Mr Burt. “As I explained in our meeting yesterday, there is a reason why a member of the Opposition chairs the Public Accounts Committee for issues just like this, where the majority of the committee representing the government would attempt to block transparency and oversight. I have handled this matter as discreetly as possible and I have practised restraint thus far. However, the seeming willingness of the OBA majority on the PAC in looking to attempt to block the PAC from exercising its oversight responsibilities is extremely troubling.” The Bermuda Government entered into a $250 million deal with the Canadian Commercial Corporation for a new airport terminal last August. Mr Richards put the agreement into the public domain earlier this year — but only 33 pages of it. The full contract is “200 and some pages”, according to testimony given to the PAC last year by accountant general Curtis Stovell, and includes nine schedules explaining how the deal will work. A transcript of a November 19 meeting of the PAC reveals that government whip Cole Simons proposed the committee endeavor to “secure a copy of the agreement that has been executed” and “get a copy of those agreements that have been signed to date”. Committee members agreed unanimously to the motion. Opposition member Wayne Furbert proposed Mr Manders be called before the committee and that motion too was agreed unanimously. On April 14, the planned meeting of the PAC was abandoned when none of the OBA members attended, so a quorum could not be reached. Mr Manders was there with a lawyer. Mr Richards said later at a press conference that the issue of Mr Burt’s summons being “not valid” played a part in why government members didn’t show up. He added last night that two government members had prior commitments at the Ag Show and there were other scheduling conflicts. He said PAC members were supposed to leave their party allegiances at the door of the bipartisan parliamentary committee and work together. “You can’t have a chairman issuing a summons,” said Mr Richards, himself a former PAC chairman. “The summons was specifically for the schedules. He did not get agreement from the committee on that.” Acting Opposition leader Mr Burt dismissed the claim that he had moved unilaterally, pointing to the transcript of the November 19 meeting. “For him to say that I acted alone in this case is a lie,” he said. “It was a decision made in a PAC meeting heard in a public sitting. He knows the PAC requested this.” Mr Simons told The Royal Gazette yesterday that his motion on November 19 was made before Mr Richards released 33 pages of the agreement — and he was now satisfied that the PAC had all the paperwork it needed to scrutinize the deal. “At that point, I didn’t know what the agreement consisted of and so we were talking in circles at that time. I got up and said ...‘we don’t know what we are talking about. It’s all speculation’. That came out before it was tabled in the House of Assembly. Mr Simons said he supported the finance minister’s refusal to let the PAC or the public see the schedules at this stage of “active negotiations”. The e-mail chain obtained by this newspaper reveals Mr Burt telling Ms Jackson that “numerous informal requests” for the schedules “were made and ignored”. The Royal Gazette had a freedom of information request for the schedules turned down by the Ministry of Finance. Mr Simons said: “I will do nothing to compromise the deal that is being worked on at this time. What [Mr Richards] has tabled in the 33 pages before the House of Assembly is enough for us to have a good idea.” He said when Mr Burt told the committee he had issued the summons, “we all didn’t believe him, because the committee didn’t know it had been issued”. He added: “He had issued it of his own volition. The chairman did it without the approval of the PAC and then what made matters worse was that he issued a second summons [on April 14] when there was no quorum.” The OBA MP cited section 37 of the standing orders of the House of Assembly, which he said prevented any powers of the committee being delegated to any one member, including the chairman. Mr Burt said last week that Mr Simons and Ms Jackson did not give advance notice that they would not attend the April 14 PAC meeting. Mr Simons said he sent a message on April 13 to the full committee, explaining that an unexpected and urgent professional commitment had come up, otherwise he “absolutely” would have attended. "The e-mail correspondence we obtained shows Ms Jackson responding to Mr Burt’s statement that he had the power to issue the summons under the Parliament Act. I understand what the legislation says and the chair’s power,” she wrote. “It remains the respectable course to inform members prior to carrying out such powers. As a team, we must do what we can to sustain and improve the credibility of the PAC. Again, this is a matter of principle. Politics aside, if you’d consulted your committee members we may have come up with a strategy that would have produced a more productive result.” Opposition MP Lovitta Foggo interjected at that point, replying: “When do we recognise that at least in PAC we are never suppose[d] to be partisan. In any case the chair does not need a consensus to operate. PAC has never tried to stop the chairman from exercising his duty in the past. You cannot override the chair by vote or otherwise. Perhaps the chair should consider running the meetings as former chairs have, then this entire line of conversation would not be taking place. The chair has exercised an option that he is entitled to do and that needed to be done. If civil servants and the executive don’t respect us as parliamentary officers it is incumbent upon us all to ensure that we are taken seriously and, if a summons is required to make people respond as they should, then so be it ... Let’s hope the FS and his Minister follow the law. We need to do our jobs.”
2016. April 21. The Bermuda Government has rejected a freedom of information request for a raft of documents detailing how the new multimillion-dollar airport deal will work. And it has also refused to release a legal opinion on whether Bermuda needs the approval of the United Kingdom to proceed with the agreement. The Royal Gazette made two separate requests to the Ministry of Finance under the Public Access to Information Act and got two rejection letters. We appealed both decisions to financial secretary Anthony Manders, who in turn referred them to the island’s information commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez. Ms Gutierrez’s office is considering whether the appeals meet the technical requirements under the Pati Act for independent reviews. Shadow finance minister David Burt said last night the Pati refusals were “not surprising because it seems they do not want the public — the people of Bermuda — to know what they have signed the people of Bermuda up for and that’s the scariest thing of all”. He added that “so many questions” still surrounded the “largest public procurement project in the history of this country. The circumstances around this should have everyone’s alarm bells going off. That’s why I continue to insist that we see some transparency on this.” Our first Pati request in January was for the nine schedules associated with the $250 million airport development agreement between the Bermuda Government and the Canadian Commercial Corporation. Mr Burt, chairman of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, attempted to obtain the same schedules last week, when he summoned Mr Manders to a meeting of the PAC to present copies of the airport development agreement. Mr Burt’s bid failed when the OBA members of the committee failed to show up so a quorum could not be reached. Finance minister Bob Richards later said the summons was invalid, adding: “The schedules include commercially sensitive information that we cannot release while we are still in negotiations with CCC and [main contractor] Aecon. Parts of the [agreement], which I signed last summer, bind us to keep such sensitive information confidential. This is for the benefit of all parties concerned. Releasing those schedules contrary to our agreement would jeopardize Bermuda’s reputation as a responsible and reliable business partner. Once the parties reach a final agreement, then all documents that relate to our agreement can, should and will be made public.” Mr Burt insisted further elements of the contracts could and should be released. The acting Opposition leader argued: “How could the terms and definitions be a secret? How can the schedule of fees that are going to be charged at the people at the airport be a secret? How can you say all these items that should fall under public oversight be secrets?” The issue is likely to be discussed again when the PAC meets next Wednesday. Mr Richards released part of the airport agreement online earlier this year, after telling MPs that the full document was “extraordinarily voluminous”. The agreement he shared was just 33 pages long and schedules A through to I, which are referred to extensively throughout the agreement, were missing. Former One Bermuda Alliance leader John Barritt criticised their absence in a column for this newspaper, writing: “These schedules are essential to understanding that to which the government has committed.” In its refusal to disclose under Pati, the Ministry’s information officer said the schedules were exempt under section 25 and 26 of the Act, because they contained commercial information and information received in confidence. This newspaper also asked for all correspondence between Mr Richards and CCC from the date the One Bermuda Alliance became government and August 24 last year, the day the airport agreement was signed. The Ministry refused that request too, saying all correspondence from December 18, 2012 to December 31, 2014 was already in the public domain and there was “no correspondence” between Mr Richards and CCC between January 1 and August 24, 2015. We requested an internal review of the decision by Mr Manders, the head of the authority. We were told Mr Manders was involved in the decision so the matter had to be referred to the information commissioner, as per section 44 of the Act. Our second Pati request in February was for the legal opinion obtained by the Bermuda Government from the international law firm Bennett Jones on whether the government needed a letter of entrustment from the UK to proceed with the airport redevelopment plan. Mr Richards has said publicly that permission from Britain is not needed for the airport deal. The Deputy Premier told the House of Assembly in November 2014 that the Ministry of Finance sought legal advice from Bennett Jones and was told the letter of entrustment was not required. Opposition members asked him if he was aware that Bennett Jones had represented CCC previously in respect to a review of an engineering firm and he said he did not know about it but it had “nothing to do with Bermuda”. The Pati request from this newspaper also asked for the government’s correspondence with Britain on the agreement with CCC, including the initial approach to the UK from Bermuda on the topic and its reply to the entrustment letter which was issued by the UK on July 17 last year. The Ministry refused to disclose the legal opinion on the grounds it was exempt under section 35 of the Act, which says a record can be withheld if it is “of such a nature that it would be exempt from production in legal proceedings on the ground of legal professional privilege”. Our request for the correspondence was partially denied because the records included information received in confidence, Cabinet documents and legal professional privilege. We again requested an internal review by Mr Manders and it was again referred to Ms Gutierrez on the basis that it involved a decision made by the financial secretary. All the exemptions cited by the Ministry of Finance under the Pati Act in response to both requests are subject to the caveat that “a record shall be disclosed if disclosure of it is in the public interest”, with the exception of Cabinet documents. Ms Gutierrez said today: “The public has an unqualified right to an independent review by the information commissioner. It is important that the public understands that this is a legal right, not something subject to my discretion. When the information commissioner’s office receives any application for a review, we check to make sure it meets the technical requirements under the Pati Act for the information commissioner to have the legal power to hear it. Once we know the technical requirements are met, the applicant is entitled to a review. I want to emphasise that once we have a valid application, no discretion is involved in deciding to hear it.” If Ms Gutierrez does launch reviews into the refusals, she will decide if the public interest outweighs the reasons given for withholding the records. Bermuda’s Pati Act came into effect on April 1 last year. Mr Richards had told Parliament the public would be able to request information about the airport deal under the new legislation.
2016. April 21. A meeting of the Public Accounts Committee has been set back so members can attend the funeral of Clarence James. Dr James, a celebrated surgeon and former Deputy Premier, died last weekend. The meeting had been scheduled to take place this afternoon, but according to a statement from the Bermuda Government it has been postponed until next Wednesday. The committee had initially been scheduled to meet last Thursday, but the meeting was postponed after Government MPs failed to attend, leaving the committee without a quorum. Financial secretary Anthony Manders had been summoned by PAC chairman David Burt, the Shadow Minister of Finance, to present copies of the Airport Development Agreement at that meeting, and Mr Manders was further summoned to attend today’s meeting. However, a dispute has arisen about the validity of the summons. Finance minister Bob Richards claiming a summons requires the unanimous appeal of the committee, but Mr Burt has maintained the summons was properly issued and valid. Next week’s meeting will begin at 2.30pm in the Senate Chamber at the Cabinet Building, and members of the public are welcome to observe.
2016. April 20. Acting opposition leader David Burt has accused the Government of secrecy and dishonesty regarding the proposed airport redevelopment project. Mr Burt spoke to a capacity crowd of more than 100 people at a Progressive Labour Party town hall meeting in St George’s Cricket Club. During his speech, the shadow finance minister accused his One Bermuda Alliance counterpart Bob Richards of withholding 200 pages of the proposed contract between the Government and Aecon, its chosen construction firm for the $249 million project. Mr Burt said: “We’ve been told that this deal is not privatization, and we’ve been told that the contract is still under negotiation, so the details cannot be revealed. This contract was signed in August 2015. If you sign a contract, you are no longer negotiating that contract. Show the people of the country what (you) have signed.” Mr Burt also claimed that the taxpayer would foot Canadian firm Aecon’s electricity bill throughout the contract’s 30-year agreement. “That bill is $250,000 a month,” he said as the audience gasped. “That’s $90 million over 30 years, and that’s without inflation. Your tax dollars are paying a Canadian company, who are going to take over our airport, for their power. That’s what we know.” Mr Burt also stated that, under the current deal, Aecon would be exempt from payroll tax, customs duties and work permit fees. “We’ve been told that the new terminal will not cost the taxpayer anything, that it’s going to be free. We’ve already spent millions of dollars. This year, inside of the budget session, a line item was inserted for $13 million for airport redevelopment. Maybe (the Government) were fuzzing up the facts. Maybe they were fuzzing up the numbers. I have a simple question. Do the rules apply to the OBA?” Shadow transport minister Lawrence Scott called the topic at hand “a passion of mine. We believe that the airport should not be privatized, and we believe that the profits generated by the new airport should belong to the people of Bermuda and not a Canadian company,” he said. Mr Scott also claimed that new airport would be smaller than L.F. Wade in its current form. “Right now we have eight gates, the new airport will have six,” he said. “So whoever is planning on building this airport is not planning on our tourism numbers increasing. This is not Field of Dreams. If you build it, they will not come.” Mr Scott implored the Government to consider the consequences of its actions. “We must focus on increasing air arrivals by developing our tourism product before committing limited revenue to a new airport. I believe that the revenue that we are giving away to an entity in another country could be better spent on our educational infrastructure. We cannot afford a $250 million airport at this time - at any time.”
2016. April 15. Deputy Premier Bob Richards said a summons issued by Public Accounts Committee chairman David Burt to bring the financial secretary before the committee was not legally valid. Mr Burt, however, insisted that the summons was valid and Mr Richard’s claim was “idiotic”, questioning why government is attempting to keep details of the airport contracts secret. At a press conference yesterday, Mr Richards, the Minister of Finance, said that a summons could only be issued on the agreement of the committee rather than by the chairman. “During my tenure we inaugurated public meetings and issued summonses — including one to a sitting minister,” he said. “But they were issued with the consensus of the bipartisan committee — not by the chairman alone. As the most recent summonses were written and delivered by the chairman without prior committee approval, they are not valid.” Mr Richards also said the development agreements of the airport project should not be released publicly yet as negotiations are still under way. “The schedules include commercially sensitive information that we cannot release while we are still in negotiations with CCC and Aecon. Parts of the ADA, which I signed last summer, bind us to keep such sensitive information confidential. This is for the benefit of all parties concerned. Releasing these schedules contrary to our agreement would jeopardize Bermuda’s reputation as a responsible and reliable business partner. Once the parties reach a final agreement, then all documents that relate to our agreement can, should and will be made public.” His statement came a day after four One Bermuda Alliance MPs failed to attend a scheduled meeting of the bipartisan committee, forcing its postponement. Financial secretary Anthony Manders had been summoned by Mr Burt, the Shadow Minister of Finance, to present copies of the Airport Development Agreement at that meeting. Mr Manders was in attendance for the meeting with a lawyer. When the committee did not reach a quorum, a fresh summons was handed to him by Mr Burt. While OBA MP Cole Simons said the non-appearance was due to scheduling conflicts, when questioned yesterday Mr Richards said the issue of the summons also played a part. “Mr Manders had been summoned and we didn’t think the summons was valid,” he said. “Some members had business elsewhere. There was no point in having that meeting and they had other things they had to do. It was a combination of factors, but certainly the fact that the summons was not valid was one reason.” Asked by The Royal Gazette why the OBA did not raise the issues at the PAC meeting yesterday and instead held a press conference today, he referenced the fact that he had returned from the RIMS conference in San Diego only yesterday. “I got back yesterday,” he said. “I wasn’t going to send my financial secretary into a meeting where he would be grilled on something that was not valid. If the summons isn’t valid, then he shouldn’t be there. He is a senior government official, and he should not respond to summons that are not valid.” Responding to the comments last night Mr Burt maintained that the summons was valid, saying that the position was supported by legislation and by the Speaker of the House Randy Horton. Mr Burt also dismissed the suggestion that he had moved unilaterally, stating that the PAC voted unanimously to request the Airport Development Agreement from the financial secretary last November. “For him to say that I acted alone in this case is a lie,” he said. “It was a decision made in a PAC meeting heard in a public sitting. He knows the PAC requested this.” He also said further elements of the contracts can and should be released, saying that money is already being spent on the airport project. Mr Burt asked: “If this contract is still under negotiation, how is it that work is happening at the airport? How is it we are appropriating and spending money then? How could the terms and definitions be a secret? How can the schedule of fees that are going to be charged to the people at the airport be a secret? How can you say all these items that should fall under public oversight be secrets?”
2016. April 15. A meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday was called off after all four One Bermuda Alliance members failed to attend, leaving the committee without a quorum. Financial secretary Anthony Manders, who had been summoned to attend the meeting to present copies of the Airport Development Agreement, was present in the Senate Chamber with a lawyer. Chairman David Burt, the Shadow Minister of Finance, said Jeff Sousa and Glen Smith had given advance notice that they would not be able to attend, but no such warning was given by either Cole Simons or Susan Jackson. In addition to Mr Burt, PLP committee members Wayne Furbert and Lovitta Foggo were present, but the Standing Orders require a quorum of at least four members for a meeting to take place. Addressing the media and members of the public, Mr Burt said that the OBA had requested a private meeting of the PAC in which they could discuss rescinding the summons for Mr Manders. “Of course, that is not something that is in order,” Mr Burt said. “Once something has been issued you cannot then go back on it. It’s outside the rules of the House and it’s outside standing orders. So that is not something that is going to be entertained. For whatever reason, the members that had indicated they were going to be here are not present at this time.” A statement by Mr Simons yesterday afternoon said that the OBA members were all unable to attend due to other professional commitments. “Unfortunately, none of the Government members of the PAC were able to attend today’s meeting because of prior commitments already in place when the meeting was scheduled and because of unexpected professional commitments,” he said. “Apologies have been sent to the chairman and we look forward to resuming the committee’s important work next week.” A fresh summons was served on Mr Manders, warning him to attend the next scheduled PAC meeting with a copy of the contracts for the airport project. Speaking after the postponement, Mr Burt said he was disappointed by the non-attendance, but that the committee would continue to press on to ensure that Bermuda gets the best value for money with the airport redevelopment deal. “Regardless of how we feel towards the airport, where some people may be in support of it and some people may be in opposition to it, the biggest challenge we all have is the PAC is here to exercise oversight. That is our job, that is our responsibility, and we are supposed to do it in a non-partisan fashion. We do not have a place to put an opinion as to whether we believe the airport is a good project or not. That is the responsibility of the elected government. Our responsibility, as the PAC, is to ensure that the rules are being followed and to ensure that value for money comes from the project. What we know from the airport development agreement thus far is that money is being spent, the contract was signed way back in August; we understand that things are proceeding, consultants have been hired and the taxpayers are increasingly on the hook. What we do not know is to what extent the taxpayers are on the hook, to what extent are the commitments the government signed in August, and that is what we have to know as the only oversight committee in Parliament.” A PLP spokesman said last night the government appeared to be attempting to avoid revealing details of the airport plan. “The airport contract was signed on August 24 of last year and the PAC requested the airport contract in November,” the spokesman said. “Five months later, the people’s representatives are no closer to understanding what the OBA has committed taxpayers to over the next 30 years. The OBA is clearly trying to avoid revealing the details. If they were not, the PAC chairman wouldn’t have had to issue a summons to force the government’s hand. The promised transparency of this un-tendered project is non-existent, meanwhile Aecon continues to move ahead with the project. One must assume that given the five months the OBA has taken to reveal the details of the contract that they are trying to buy time. The PLP will not allow the OBA to break the rules and the law regarding the airport redevelopment, and our members will continue to use every avenue to ensure that Bermuda gets the best deal for our limited tax dollars.”
2016. March 28. A more in-depth glimpse of how Bermuda’s new $250 million airport could look should be available within the next few weeks, according to the firm spearheading the redevelopment. Canadian construction giant Aecon said architects had started work on the exterior and interior design aspects of the building in February, a phase that will last up to two months before new artist’s renderings are available. Those drawings will ultimately allow a 3-D model of the airport to be developed, which will be shared with the public. Steve Nackan, president of Aecon Concessions, told The Royal Gazette the airport design was progressing well and key decisions regarding scope and functional parameters had been made in consultation with a very broad spectrum of stakeholders. As people step off the plane, they should see that Bermuda is at the forefront of modern, luxury travel,” he said. “And as they leave, they will leave with a positive, lasting impression of this beautiful island. The entire terminal will integrate the latest world-class technologies in all aspects of the process, including in check-in, screening, baggage and materials handling and processing, communications, fire systems, back-up power, telecoms and more.” Mr Nackan said that since the local office of international architecture firm OBMI joined the design team last month, a series of design studios had been initiated to refine the exterior appearance of the airport and define the interior sense of place in a Bermuda style. “The combined design team is exploring ways to integrate those features which make Bermuda unique and memorable to visitors and residents alike,” he said. “These include vibrant colours, simplicity and symmetry of indigenous buildings, marine ambience, sunlight, natural features, warm friendly people, flora, fauna, etc. It is the aim of the team to develop a design which will be memorable and one that the people of Bermuda can be proud of.” According to Mr Nackan, other features of the new airport will include:
Construction of the airport is due to start this year, with the terminal slated to open in 2020.
2016. April 12. Workers at new airport support services firm CI² are locked in a dispute over severance pay with former operator BAS-Serco. Now the Labour Department has stepped in to mediate the dispute, which started after BAS-Serco lost the contract. And Bermuda Public Services Union president Jason Hayward warned that Government may end up having to foot the bill for redundancy payments. Mr Hayward said: “The BPSU considers the company’s actions to be unlawful. The terminations were by reasons of redundancy as defined in section 30 of the Employment Act 2000. BAS-Serco informed the employees that they will not be paid severance allowance upon termination and have not done so to date, despite the members having the right to severance pay under the section 23 and 30 of the Employment Act 2000. In addition, the company has also failed to supply the employees with certificates of termination which would state the reason for termination. The BPSU has also been informed that this conflict has arisen because the Bermuda Government may ultimately be responsible for the redundancy pay of the employees based on wording which is contained in the previous air, maintenance and operations service contract between BAS-Serco and the Bermuda Government. And in an effort by BAS-Serco to secure current contractual arrangements they are placing the Government’s interest and their own over the company’s former long-serving employees.” BAS Group of Companies CEO Ian Cook could not be contacted last night. The dispute affects around 25 former BAS-Serco staff, with non-unionized employees understood to have sought legal advice on their position. Attempts to contact BAS-Serco yesterday were unsuccessful. It was announced last October the CI² was to take over from BAS-Serco, which has provided support operations at the airport for 20 years, from the start of this month. The Atlanta, Georgia, based firm, which already provides similar services in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, pledged to retain all 40 staff at present employed by BAS-Serco. BAS-Serco provided air traffic control, ground electronics and the Bermuda Weather Service. CI² also supplies air traffic control and weather observation to a total of 20 aircraft control towers in the US. When the contract was announced, CI² founder and president Andrella Kenner said that a “dedicated professional workforce was already in place in Bermuda. The company feels that professionals who have dedicated their careers as air traffic controllers, meteorologists, weather forecasters, ground electronic maintenance providers and airport maintenance service providers play an essential role in the airports past as well as its future.” BAS Group, originally involved in the aircraft servicing business, has expanded to a group of ten companies. It now provides services like facilities management to Hamilton office blocks like the Argus Building, the Bermuda Monetary Authority, Corner House and HSBC.
2016. March 23. OBMI has been selected as the landscape architects for the proposed airport redevelopment project following a RFP process. According to a statement by Aecon Group Inc, government’s partner in the project, OBMI’s Bermuda office was selected for the post after interviews with several Bermudian firms. “Working with Scott Associates Architects, the project’s lead architectural firm specializing in airport design, the Bermuda office of OBMI will be responsible for advising on the exterior treatment of the proposed new airport to ensure that it is compatible with the natural Bermudian environment and climate,” the statement said. “OBMI will provide guidance on Bermuda’s growing season as well as the most appropriate native plants and other indigenous flora and fauna to contribute towards maintaining Bermuda’s ecosystem. Additionally, OBMI will advise on decorative features such as benches, patios, and possible pavilions and water features to enhance the outdoor experience for travelers, while reflecting the Bermudian culture.” Steve Nackan, president of Aecon Concessions and the project’s development lead, said: “We engaged local architects to ensure that the new airport will exhibit a true sense of Bermuda. Aesthetically, the airport will showcase the island’s natural beauty and leverage natural resources as much as possible. We chose OBMI because they have demonstrated expertise in creating solutions that celebrate the unique aspects of the island.” Meanwhile, Jennifer Davidson, senior landscape architect at OBMI, said: “We take our stewardship of Bermuda’s environmental resources seriously and look forward to continuing productive collaboration with the Aecon and Scott Associates teams.” Today’s announcement follows a statement that revealed that OBMI was selected as the building architect for phase one of the airport redevelopment project. It also follows the successful engagement by Aecon of Bermuda-based Atlantic Well Drillers, Onsite Engineering, and Bermuda-Caribbean Engineering Consultants for the airport geotechnical survey work completed in the final quarter of 2015. Bermuda Government struck a deal with the Canadian Commercial Corporation and its subcontractor Aecon in 2014 for them to finance the rebuilding of LF Wade International Airport in return for a contract to run the facility for 30 years and collect any revenue raised. The agreement has come under fire from critics who say the project should have been tendered but Bob Richards, Finance Minister, has repeatedly insisted the sole source deal is the best for Bermuda.
2016. February 25. Canadian construction giant Aecon says it is “too early” to determine whether it will sell its stake in the company running Bermuda’s new airport once the project has been completed. The firm spearheading Bermuda’s airport redevelopment was due to operate the last airport it built until 2041, but it pulled out of the facility 26 years early after selling its shares. The $700 million Quito International Airport in Ecuador won awards after it was built by Aecon. But after agreeing to a 35-year concession term to first operate the capital city’s old airport from 2006 and then the new airport after it opened in 2013, Aecon completed only nine years of the term before cashing in. In December last year, it completed the previously disclosed sale of its 45.5 per cent interest in the Quito International Airport concessionaire Quiport for $232.6 million to two other entities — a Colombian construction company and a Brazilian transportation firm. The deal ended Aecon’s involvement with Quito airport and a spokeswoman for the company confirmed yesterday that it was no longer operating the airport. The company said in a statement on December 10 that the “monetisation of [its] investment [in Quiport] generates approximate net cash proceeds (after transaction costs and estimated cash taxes) of $195 million”. An article appeared in Canada’s National Post newspaper last summer when the sale was first agreed, headlined: “Aecon Group Inc finally sells Quito airport stake, and at a good price”. The piece said Aecon had been “looking to dispose of the airport since it opened in 2013” and that the sale was responsible for “bolstering Aecon’s balance sheet”. Shadow transport minister Lawrence Scott raised the issue of the Quiport sale at a public meeting about Bermuda’s airport last September, prompting Aecon Concessions president Steve Nackan to state that it was typical of such arrangements. He said Aecon had financed, built and constructed the new airport and it was now suited to “long-term institutional ownership. It is typical ... at this stage in an infrastructure project’s life cycle to see investments transition from the originating project sponsor, developer and builder to long-term institutional investors, and this transition is generally perceived as a further marker of a successful development project,” added Mr Nackan. He reiterated that yesterday, saying it was a natural occurrence for the developer to cash in its share in such a project within ten to 12 years. When Bermuda’s new $250 million airport opens, projected to be in 2020, it will be run by Project Co, a special-purpose project company similar to Quiport, in which Aecon will have the largest stake. The concession term for Project Co to operate the airport is 30 years. The Aecon spokeswoman said the company’s precise stake in Project Co was still to be decided, adding: “Aecon will remain responsible for developing the deal and Project Co leadership. [It’s] too early to comment on when or if Aecon might sell and under what circumstances.” A Bermuda Government spokesman told The Royal Gazette last September that any sale of Aecon’s stake would require the Government’s consent and it would give permission if the prospective new owner had the money, experience and expertise. The spokesman said: “Subject to certain very narrow exceptions, the current development agreement requires Aecon Construction Group to be the joint owner and lead shareholder of the company that will be operating the airport throughout the construction of the airport and, thereafter, Aecon Construction Group must control the airport operating company.” We asked the Government this week to provide details of the exceptions but it has yet to do so.
2016. February 24. The $250 million redevelopment of Bermuda’s airport is “not a done deal”, according to the president of the Canadian construction firm leading the project. Steve Nackan, from Aecon Concessions, told The Royal Gazette this morning that though it would cost the island to pull out at this stage, it had the option to do so. “It’s not a done deal,” he said. “What we have agreed with the government is that this is an iterative development process. Iterative meaning we’re taking it step by step, [to] various milestones. There was an initial stage of investigation and due diligence and an ability to sort of call it quits at that stage if we found anything that wasn’t acceptable. And as we go we progress through a series of milestones where it’s possible for the process to end. And of course if we don’t reach final agreement on all the commercial terms, the project will not proceed so there are opportunities for both sides along the way to exit if things come up in the deal that are not acceptable. I won’t get into the specific numbers but the agreement with Bermuda is that we are taking on the cost of developing the project. It’s not insignificant. We’re doing all the investigative studies, reports, traffic studies and so on and design, these are all things that are not wasted if the process terminates. They would be available to Bermuda to proceed with the project, or a version of the project, at some other time. And if they decide to walk away they would need to compensate us for having developed the project for their benefit.” Mr Nackan declined to reveal how much Aecon has spent so far on the redevelopment scheme. The Bermuda Government struck a deal with the Canadian Commercial Corporation and its subcontractor Aecon in 2014 for them to finance the rebuilding of LF Wade International Airport in return for a contract to run the facility for 30 years and collect any revenue raised. The agreement has come under fire from critics who say the project should have been tendered but Finance Minister Bob Richards insists the sole source deal is the best for Bermuda. Mr Nackan said the idea behind a 2008 master plan drawn up under the previous administration was good but not economically viable. “That’s why it’s scaled down from the master plan before; it’s right-sized, I would call it,” he said of the new plan. “We’ve not cut it down too small. It is the right size for the current and expected passenger demand for the next ten years or more. Public debate is going to happen any time you are building an asset that’s so important, strategically and in the national interest. It’s very common for these kinds of projects to be used as a political football so we expect it, we are used to it and we have to deal with it through a very broad stakeholder engagement exercise.”
2016. February 17. The local office of international architecture firm OBMI has been hired to work on the first phase of the controversial $250 million airport redevelopment project. The appointment was made by Canadian contractors Aecon Construction Group, after an “extensive competitive selection process”, according to a press release. The process included a request for qualifications (RQF), request for proposals (RPF), presentation and interview stages. OBMI will work with Scott Associates Architects, Aecon’s lead architectural firm specializing in airport design, on aesthetics, interior design and local building code compliance for the proposed new airport terminal. The office will also provide guidance on Bermudian building methods and materials and support for the permitting and planning approval processes. Aecon Concessions president Steve Nackan said: “We want to ensure that the design for the proposed new airport terminal effectively captures and communicates the image that Bermuda aspires to project to the world, including the uniqueness of its culture, the warmth and friendliness of its people and the natural beauty of its island setting. Clearly, the contribution of local architects and designers is critical to this process and we look forward to working with OBMI, whose impressive contributions to the Bermudian architectural landscape and familiarity with public private partnerships bode especially well for the success of this project.” Colin Campbell, regional director of OBMI, said: “Our Bermuda airport provides the initial and concluding impressions of our island experience to every air traveller. This critical redevelopment of our core transportation infrastructure has the potential to become an iconic symbol of Bermudians resourcefulness and preparedness to meet the challenges of the future. Our business and tourism economy requires a facility that embraces 21st century standards. We are excited with the unique opportunity to participate in creating a new modern air terminal with a fundamentally unique Bermudian context.” The selection of OBMI as local architects for the project follows the engagement by Aecon of Bermuda-based Atlantic Well Drillers, Onsite Engineering and Bermuda-Caribbean Engineering Consultants for the airport geotechnical survey work completed in the final quarter of 2015. Building work is due to start on the new airport later this year in the face of critics who say the entire project should have been tendered. The redevelopment involves a sole source agreement between the Bermuda Government and the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a Canadian Government-owned entity, which appointed Aecon.
2016. February 5. A redeveloped airport could sustain Bermuda for the next 100 years, a spokesman for the site’s proposed construction firm claimed last night. Residents attended the Anglican Cathedral Hall in Hamilton for the third of three meetings on the $249 million LF Wade International Airport project. As with the previous events, the public were asked for their feedback on issues to consider in the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment being compiled by LAS Consulting and Bermuda Environmental Consulting (BEC). Again, though, attendees were more eager to vent their distaste at the contract agreed between the Bermuda Government and Canadian construction firm Aecon. In response to a PowerPoint presentation explaining the benefits of a new airport, one 88-year-old resident said: “I’ve been selling for 60-odd years, so I’m familiar with sales talk. You are looking for some validation of your project and for what you have to offer, but I cannot give it to you tonight. From what I’ve been hearing, we’ve put the cart way ahead of the horses. This Government has made the mistake of taking Bermudians for fools.” As with previous nights, common complaints at the meeting included the high cost of the project, whether it was actually needed, the lack of a transparent tendering process and whether it would generate Bermudian jobs as promised. Ken Hassard, commercial lead of airport developments at Aecon, pointed to his company’s previous successes with projects such as the CN Tower in Toronto and the $700 million Quito International Airport, which opened in Ecuador in 2013. He said: “Parts of your existing airport are 70 years old. They’ve outlived their life span. But you have to believe that with 21st century technology and materials, and the experience of the developer, that the next airport could last a century. It’s important to understand that if you’re going to build an airport maybe once in a century, you should have a supplier with a proven track record of building airports.” Jack Ward from BEC added that any further questions could be posted on the official “Bermuda Airport Redevelopment Project” Facebook page, where the appropriate technical experts could provide answers.
2016. February 4. An open meeting on the island’s airport redevelopment plan featured a skeptical and often heated crowd for a second night. Craig Looby, a developer with the Urban Maximum Industries, Inc (UMI), rose at last night’s forum at Penno’s Wharf, St George’s, to declare his company’s ability to build a better airport for Bermuda. Maintaining that UMI had the capacity, experience and access to capital to deliver the job, Mr Looby said his firm could also cover the penalties for the Bermuda Government to withdraw from the deal. The proposal on the table at present has Canadian contractors Aecon to build the new terminal, which Mr Looby said the majority of Bermudians were against. “The longer this community takes to stop this development, the higher the cost will be to compensate,” Mr Looby told the gathering, adding that his overtures to the Government had thus far gone unanswered. Reflecting much of the mood at the forum, Mr Looby said he felt that Bermudians were being excluded from access to the project, which is slated to finish construction by 2020 under a public-private partnership with the Canadian Commercial Corporation. Anxieties over foreigners being hired over locals topped the concerns, with Bermuda Environmental Consulting (BEC), the local company involved in the environmental and social impact assessment, questioned not only on its Bermudian membership but its racial make-up. BEC representatives, asked repeatedly who had paid them to carry out the assessment, assured the audience that Aecon had commissioned it, and that the Government had not paid for it. The forum briefly became a shouting match, shortly after Ken Hassard of Aecon opened the night. Mr Hassard said he had heard that the island’s lack of covered walkways to aircraft out on the runways deterred elderly and disabled visitors, prompting several people to denounce the remarks as untrue. “If anybody has a stack of Bibles, I will swear on them,” Mr Hassard replied. A third meeting is set for 5.30pm today at the Anglican Cathedral in Hamilton.
2016. February 3. The Progressive Labour Party has continued to challenge the proposed airport redevelopment project, questioning the long-term job security of staff and the status of contracts. However Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, this afternoon described the comments as “total nonsense”. Lawrence Scott, the Shadow Minister of Transport, said that while the One Bermuda Alliance had talked about job security for those who are working at the Department of Airport Operations, there were still questions about their benefits and long-term job security given the contracts. “Section J introduces a grey area that permits the new employer to provide them jobs, but their job security lay at the hands of project co-management, who I have been made to understand are looking at starting a corporate restructuring phase months after the project co-management officially takes over,” he told a press conference at Alaska Hall. In the larger scheme of things, those on the ground at the airport have the sense that without the Government’s assurance to the contrary, the day-to-day administration of the LF Wade International Airport stands in danger of being compromised.” He also said that he understood that several contracts related to the $249 million plan had stalled at the negotiation phase. “Reportedly, the Canadian Commercial Corporation did not intend to be the primary source of financing,” Mr Scott said. “From what can be determined, they planned on coming on board as a co-signer in the unlikely event that Aecon was unable to raise the funds themselves. Meanwhile, we believe that the rationale of Aecon selling off its controlling stake in Ecuador was to raise the funds for the Bermuda project. However, it is our understanding that the reason the OBA are remaining silent at this time is the crucial financial package is not yet in place. Consequently, neither the Minister of Finance, nor the Premier have been prepared to update this country about the real progress that has been made.” Shadow finance minister David Burt, meanwhile, said the Bermuda Government had ignored the Good Governance Act in its handling of the project, which he claimed 75 per cent of Bermudians were against. “This deal contains every single element the Minister of Finance and the OBA have railed against for years,” he said. “There is no open tender, no proof or surety of value for money. This deal sacrifices the single most important physical asset, transferring it to the control of a Canadian company while stripping the government of potential revenue. What will be the largest capital project in this country’s history has no involvement from the Ministry of Public Works and no oversight from the Office of Project Management and Procurement as required by the Good Governance Act.” Responding to the comments this afternoon, Mr Richards reiterated that jobs will be protected, reiterating that those who are employed at the airport will have jobs in either the new airport or the airport quango. “I have stated repeatedly that the jobs of people who work at the airport are protected. I said it to them eyeball to eyeball,” he said. “We are trying to organise that their benefits, particularly those with government pensions, will be brought over as well. We are going the extra mile.” He widely dismissed the suggestion that any contracts have stalled, and that CCC was never intended to finance the project. “CCC provide guarantees for performance, on time delivery and cost delivery. These are not financial guarantees,” he said. Mr Richards said that the financing plan was to get the project its own credit rating, independent to that of the Government, based on the projected revenues and costs. The project will then be put out on international financial markets by Aecon and others. “We are still working on the financial cost and projected revenue,” he said. “Once we do that, it will be put out to the international markets. If we get a good rating, it will affect the cost of financing.” The minister also rejected the suggestion that increasing fees for airlines would negatively affect air service to the Island, saying the important thing for the airlines was the number of travelers coming to Bermuda, and a small increase on the cost of travel would not deter tourists. He said: “If you raise the cost of travel by $5, is that going to make a difference to someone that it paying $500 a night for a hotel? The business people are going to come no matter what the price costs and the tourists already know that Bermuda is expensive.” Questioned about the repeated complaint that the project would give the airport to a foreign company, Mr Richards said the airport had been controlled by the United States for 50 years. “Nobody seemed to be bother by that,” he said. “They built it and they ran it up until the 1990s, but nobody was bothered by that.”
2016. February 3. Bermudians angry at the $249 million airport redevelopment agreement descended on St David’s last night to voice their numerous concerns. The meeting at Clearwater Middle School was intended to seek feedback on issues to consider in the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, being compiled by LAS Consulting and Bermuda Environmental Consulting (BEC). However, it quickly turned into a heated forum in which residents expressed their fury and dismay at the Government and its chosen construction firm Aecon. As revealed in The Royal Gazette last month, the contract for the LF Wade International Airport redevelopment offers assorted perks for Aecon. These include an exemption from the employer’s share of payroll tax and customs duties on capital items such as construction materials, plus a minimum revenue guarantee which means that if annual income does not reach projections over the 30-year contract, the Government will make up the difference. Former Opposition leader Kim Swan criticised the One Bermuda Alliance for failing to send any of its members to the meeting, which was hosted by members of Aecon, LAS and BEC. “You have business objectives; we are residents of this country who have very serious concerns,” he told Ken Hassard, commercial lead of airport developments at Aecon. “It’s unacceptable for politicians to use businesspeople as a human shield in a very serious political issue. You have been put in an untenable position tonight,” he added. Dorita Rogers said that she did not trust the contract’s promise of employing Bermudians at the redeveloped airport. “I keep hearing you say ‘jobs for Bermudians’,” she said. “I do not believe it and will not believe it until the Government can show it.” She also dismissed Mr Hassard’s claim that the airport provided an unsatisfactory first and last impression for tourists coming to Bermuda. “I’ve done a lot of travelling around the world. I have yet to go to anywhere and say, ‘I’m going back to that country because I love their airport’,” Ms Rogers said. Further concerns were raised about the high costs involved, the project’s impact on St David’s residents, the perceived lack of advertising for the meeting and the excessive foreign input on a very localized issue. In response to the concerns, Mr Hassard said: “There are three things Bermuda needs: a new airport, direct foreign investment and jobs. This project delivers all three. It’s literally something Bermuda needs for its survival at this point. This is about Bermuda turning around and not being a ghost town in 20 years.” Two more consultation events will take place tonight from 6.30pm at the Penno’s Wharf cruise ship terminal in St George’s, and tomorrow from 5.30pm at the Anglican Cathedral Hall in Hamilton.
2016. January 27. Members of the public are invited to share their views on the L.F. Wade International Airport redevelopment. The three meetings will seek feedback on the issues that need to be considered in the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment. Taking place from February 2 to 4, the consultation events will be held at Clearwater Middle School in St David’s on the Tuesday (from 6.30pm), Penno's Wharf cruise ship terminal in St George’s on the Wednesday (from 6.30pm) and the Anglican Cathedral Hall in Hamilton on the Thursday (from 5.30pm). The response will help contribute to the scoping study, which will be undertaken by LAS International Consulting (LAS) and Bermuda Environmental Consulting as part of the $249 million project. Graeme Smith, technical manager of LAS, said: “We encourage anyone who wishes to provide feedback from a building, environmental, social or economic perspective. “We will use this information to assess the impacts and benefits of the proposed redevelopment to enable a balanced decision-making process.”
2016. January 21. The newly published airport development agreement means the Bermuda Government has “put the Island out to any bidder, not even the highest bidder”, according to the Shadow Minister of Transport. Lawrence Scott warned the 33-page document’s lack of specifics could threaten Bermudian workers’ jobs down the line. “There’s a lot of smoke and mirrors and a lot of unanswered questions,” Mr Scott said. “Then the more answers we get, the more questions there are.” The deal, struck between the Government and the Canadian Commercial Corporation, will involve LF Wade International Airport being replaced by a new $249 million facility. Among the perks granted to CCC and its subcontractor, construction firm Aecon — collectively referred to as Project Co — will be an exemption from the employer’s share of payroll tax and customs duties on capital items such as construction materials. A minimum revenue guarantee also means that if annual income does not reach projections over the 30-year contract, the Government will make up the difference. Mr Scott called the guarantee “very troubling”. He added: “Let’s say, for whatever reason, the Government came to its better senses and said right now is not the time to build an airport, let’s focus on education instead. Then if a Progressive Labour Party government comes in five or ten years down the line and decides to build an airport, Project Co has to be the one to build it. This has committed not just the present government, but any and every government down the line to going along with this, even if they found a better deal.” Mr Scott also expressed concerns over the contract’s Airport Personnel Transition Plan, which will see airport employees transferred to either Project Co, a new quango or Bermuda “on terms and conditions which, taken as a whole, are no less favorable than such employees’ existing employment terms and conditions.” The agreement said: “Subject to applicable laws (including labour relations and collective bargaining laws) and the terms and conditions of the project agreement, Project Co shall have the right to structure the company, Project Co senior management, its employees, its organization, reporting structures and business operations in a way which it considers appropriate.” Mr Scott said: “I have a feeling that the workers will initially be given jobs, which won’t necessarily be a transition, and if they don’t like the job they’ve been given, they’ll basically be let go. Then it won’t be the Government that causes these Bermudians to lose their jobs, it’s a private entity. Also, will they get the same retirement benefits? Will they get the same pay? That’s troubling to me, and it will be to others as well. The deal as a whole has issues. The PLP’s proposal is to create an airport authority first, then bring Aecon on board as a subcontractor, not the owner and operator. That way, the Bermudians who work there now would essentially be undisturbed.” Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, on Tuesday championed the “substantial advantages to the Government’s course in this redevelopment project”. He added: “Not the least of benefits is the ability to work with the triple A-rated Canadian Government and obtaining guarantees against cost overruns, shoddy workmanship and time delays. These have been the biggest issues plaguing Bermuda’s history of infrastructure development, and it has cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars in unnecessary expenditure. It is time for that to stop. We are today, and for the foreseeable future, paying for the sins of the past. But we are on a course towards getting Bermuda back to the days of a balanced budget. Even then, our work will not be finished. We will still have to find additional revenues after that to pay off a multibillion-dollar debt. This means it is crucial that we exercise prudence in our fiscal policy. This project is just one aspect of that strategy and notably, it does not impact the treasury and add millions of dollars more to the Government’s debt.”
2016. January 20. The Canadian developer of the new $249 million airport has been granted a string of perks, the official contract has revealed. Canadian Commercial Corporation and its subcontractor construction firm Aecon — collectively referred to as Project Co — will be exempt from the employer’s share of payroll tax and customs duties on capital items like construction materials. And Government will also pay an equivalent sum “on an annual basis and for the term of the project agreement an amount equal to the energy consumption for the airport operations...” less airport tenants’ bills. The operating company will also get a minimum revenue guarantee — which means if annual income is not up to projections over the 30-year contract, Government will make up the difference. The terms of the agreement, a prelude to the financial close of the deal was tabled in Parliament last month. The financial close, including figures, is expected to be concluded by the end of November this year. The agreement also specifies that a transition plan should be in place for the transfer of airport employees, to Aecon, a new airport quango or Bermuda. It added that, subject to conditions, staff should be transferred “on terms and conditions which, taken as a whole, are no less favorable than such employees’ existing employment terms and conditions.” The agreement said: “Subject to applicable laws (including labour relations and collective bargaining laws) and the terms and conditions of the project agreement, Project Co shall have the right to structure the company, Project Co senior management, its employees, its organization, reporting structures and business operations in a way which it considers appropriate.” The agreement added that there could be existing terms and conditions, like continued participation in the regulated government pension scheme, which will not be continued by Project Co, but replaced by a private, defined-contribution pension plan, and “other benefits that are not enjoyed by comparable public sector employees in other common law jurisdictions that may be subject to modification or transfer to private sector pension and/or benefit schemes.” The agreement also includes a clause setting up a development of Bermudian labour plan, which obliges the contractor to “identify, train, develop and preferentially employ qualified Bermudian labour”. The agreement said: “Project Co shall establish mentoring and work shadowing programmes for a select number of unskilled Bermudians to allow these individuals to observe and learn certain construction trade skills in Bermuda and to establish job fairs and undertake employment recruiting events and requests for proposals to identify persons for the purpose of recruiting and retaining Bermudian labour and Bermudian employees, independent contractors and service providers.” The agreement also stipulated: “Aecon Construction and its affiliates, together with Project Co, shall be exempt from all land, land transfer, lease and other real estate taxes, levies and stamp duty in Bermuda that may be associated with the airport, airport operations, construction, lease and other real estate taxes, levies and stamp duty in Bermuda that may be associated with the airport, airport operations, construction, leased lands or otherwise with the project at any time during the term of this airport development agreement and the terms of the core project document.” Bob Richards, the Finance Minister, said last night: “Not the least of benefits is the ability to work with the triple-A rated Canadian government and obtaining guarantees against cost overruns, shoddy workmanship and time delays. “These have been the biggest issues plaguing Bermuda’s history of infrastructure development — and it has cost the Bermudian taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars in unnecessary expenditure.” And Mr Richards added the public private partnership deal for the airport “does not impact the treasury and add millions of dollars more to the Government’s debt”. The statement added: “The project calls for the employment of hundreds of Bermudians initially and an increase in the number of long-term jobs connected to the facility going forward. It also calls for an injection of hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign capital into the Bermuda economy.”
2016. January 19. The agreement between the Bermuda Government and the Canadian Commercial Corporation has been published on the Bermuda Parliamentary website. The Airport Development Agreement was signed last summer and tabled in the House of Assembly by finance minister Bob Richards in December. In a statement today, the Government said the project will “replace an ageing and crumbling infrastructure with a purpose-built 21st century terminal for civilian air traffic”, calling for hundreds of jobs for Bermudians. The deal has repeatedly been criticised by the Progressive Labour Party, but Mr Richards stated: “There are substantial advantages to the Government’s course in this redevelopment project. Not the least of benefits is the ability to work with the Triple-A-rated Canadian Government and obtaining guarantees against cost overruns, shoddy workmanship and time delays. These have been the biggest issues plaguing Bermuda’s history of infrastructure development. And it has cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars in unnecessary expenditure. It is time for that to stop. We are today, and for the foreseeable future, paying for the sins of the past. But we are on a course toward getting Bermuda back to the days of a balanced budget. Even then, our work will not be finished. We will still have to find additional revenues after that to pay off a multi-billion-dollar debt. This means it is crucial that we exercise prudence in our fiscal policy. This project is just one aspect of that strategy and notably, it does not impact the treasury and add millions of dollars more to the Government’s debt.” To see the agreement, visit www.parliament.bm.
2015. December 18. Key information about the Bermuda Government’s airport plans were shared with Curtis Stovell, the Accountant-General, only after his appearance at the Public Accounts Committee prompted the Ministry of Finance to do so. PAC chairman David Burt, the Shadow Minister of Finance, said the testimony of Mr Stovell appeared to have “shamed” the ministry into following through on a request for information made six months earlier. “This speaks to weaknesses in our system,” Mr Burt told The Royal Gazette. “None of this would have been exposed had we not held that meeting on November 19.” Mr Stovell has repeatedly said that while he initially waived protocol in the Government’s early dealings with the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC), he was not asked in writing for later waivers, and that financial instructions had not been adhered to. However, Anthony Manders, the financial secretary, last week insisted that Mr Stovell’s approval at the start had covered the entire deal with CCC — including CCC’s selection of Aecon, a Canadian contracting company, to build a new terminal at LF Wade International Airport. Yesterday, Mr Stovell conceded that “communication should have been much better than it was”, but said he had now been furnished with the necessary information and was “not saying that we are not currently in compliance.” On his apparent difference of opinion with the Financial Secretary, Mr Stovell said: “I can see given the intimacy of the Ministry of Finance with the transaction, that the assumption would have been made.” However, he said he saw no reason why he could not revoke his permission if he grew concerned about how the project had been handled. Mr Burt said that there was “no dispute” that procedure had been broken, as the Accountant-General’s permission had been required. Mr Stovell also said that he would have asked the Ministry for more information about Aecon, had he known that CCC already had the firm selected. The PAC heard that the project’s value for money assessments would be “in the public agenda”, and that responsibility for it had been handed over from the Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of Tourism and Transport. Mr Burt later told this newspaper that the delegation to another ministry was “concerning”, pointing out that such transfers of oversight for major capital projects had been repeatedly criticised by the Auditor-General. The PAC is now on break for the winter, but Mr Burt said the group was getting to the point at which it could provide the House of Assembly with a unanimous report of its recommendations going forward.
2015. December 11. Two senior Ministry of Finance officials are at odds over whether adequate permission was sought for the Bermuda Government’s deal to build a new airport terminal. “Clearly we are at an impasse,” David Burt, the Shadow Minister of Finance, said at the close of yesterday’s lengthy meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). “It seems, sadly — which is not surprising — that it has broken down along party lines,” added Mr Burt, who is chairman of the committee. Members of Parliament from both parties spent two hours questioning Anthony Manders, the Financial Secretary, over whether or not the government’s own rules were flouted in the deal with Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) to build a new terminal for LF Wade International Airport. With Mr Mander's view widely diverging from those given at an earlier meeting by Curtis Stovell, the Accountant-General, the PAC unanimously agreed to call Mr Stovell back for further questioning next week. Simultaneously, Heather Jacobs Matthews, the Auditor-General, will be asked if her office can give an independent opinion as to whether or not financial instructions were breached. Ms Jacobs Matthews is to be contacted after a motion from Progressive Labour Party MP Wayne Furbert, who said he preferred to go to her directly rather than “wait five years” for a report on the airport deal. Mr Manders repeatedly maintained that an initial waiver from the Accountant-General to proceed with CCC amounted to approval for the entire project as it was structured in the agreement. Mr Burt responded: “What I consider unfortunate is the fact that the Government and the minister are expecting the people of this country to believe that the guardian of the public purse took less than 24 hours to waive permission for a $255 million project.” At its opening of business, the committee heard from a May 2015 memo from Mr Stovell to Mr Manders saying that CCC’s selection of a “hand-picked” contractor, Aecon, to be a sole-sourcing that required his approval. However, the Financial Secretary insisted that all subsequent phases of the project has been given in the letter of agreement approved by the Accountant-General, and that it was CCC’s purview to select Aecon. However, PAC member Cole Simons pointed out that Mr Stovell had earlier told the committee that he had not given permission for the sole sourcing of the contractor. "Since then, have you reconciled that difference?” Mr Simons asked. “We have met and will reconcile it,” Mr Manders said, describing the agreement with CCC as unique, highly complex and difficult to explain — and like “trying to fit a square peg into a round hole” when it came to financial instructions. “This is not a typical transaction,” he said. “It’s difficult to fit in with financial instructions. That’s why at the beginning we asked for sole sourcing and to waive financial instructions.” Questioned repeatedly by Mr Burt how he could reconcile his position with Mr Stovell’s assertion that financial instructions had not been followed, Mr Manders told the PAC: “If he had that position, I think he should have withdrawn the original approval. If he was that serious, he should have said ‘I withdraw’ ... He had that ability. He could have done that.” The plan with CCC was a government-to-government deal that had only been possible to make with Canada, the Financial Secretary said. “It’s unfortunate that this happened,” Mr Manders added. “Going forward, I think it would be prudent that the ministry keeps the Accountant-General in the loop.” He recommended regular updates on the project be delivered to the PAC. However, he said: “It would be very odd after agreeing to this government-to-government approach to have to go back and seek further approval, when we had approval from the beginning.” PAC member Lovitta Foggo said it had been her understanding from Mr Stovell’s remarks earlier that he had not granted permission. “When I marry that information together, it still puts flags up for me,” she said. Asked by PAC member Jeff Sousa if the agreement had been given in an “open and transparent manner”, Mr Manders replied: “In my opinion, yes.” Although agents from Aecon and CCC were on the Island examining the airport before the permission was given, Mr Manders said they were “scoping the project” at their own expense, independently of the Government. He also denied that there had been any pressure put on him by the Bermuda Government, and said that he had put no pressure on the Accountant-General to give the waiver.
2015. December 3. A former United Bermuda Party minister has weighed in on the Bermuda Government’s $250 million plan to build a new airport, claiming the project is unnecessary. Quinton Edness, who retired from politics in 1998, said he had heard nothing yet from the country’s leaders which persuaded him that the new facility was needed. “I don’t see why we need another airport terminal building,” said Mr Edness. “I just don’t see the necessity for that. We have an airport that’s serving the country quite well. It hasn’t been too long ago that we spent millions of dollars extending the departure lounge and dealing with the arrivals lounge. The airport works very well. No one has said to me what’s wrong with our airport. I don’t see the necessity of having to build the new airport, particularly when the country is in such debt. I just don’t think with the condition that we are in, our economy, with the debt that we have piled up, that we have to have another building [costing] in excess of $200 million.” Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, has cited rising maintenance costs at LF Wade International Airport and its vulnerability to storms as major arguments in favour of building a new terminal in a location less susceptible to hurricanes. He said in August the project would be financed by a private-sector developer — meaning there would be no need for Government to add to its debt — who would then take over management of airport operations for a 30-year period. The project, which Mr Richards has also said will provide economic stimulus and allow Bermuda to keep up with its competitors, is not expected to break ground before the second half of 2016 Mr Edness is not the first person to criticize the development. The Progressive Labour Party has staunchly opposed the scheme, claiming it could mean job losses for Bermudians and lost revenue for the Island.
2015. November 26. PLP leader Marc Bean has accused finance minister Bob Richards of misleading the public with his claim that financial instructions were waived for the airport redevelopment deal. Mr Richards released a memo last week showing that Accountant-General Curtis Stovell approved the Bermuda Government to waive financial instructions on its early deals for the controversial project. However, in a statement, the Leader of the Opposition argued that memo only shows approval was granted for the first phase of the scheme. Mr Bean stated: “The admission in the Public Accounts Committee meeting on Thursday, November 19, from the Accountant-General, that permission has neither been requested nor received by the Minister of Finance, to act outside of financial instructions, is proof positive that the One Bermuda Alliance Government is a government without financial conscience, and a government that is willing to lie and deceive the Bermudian people to achieve its goals at any cost. The memo that was subsequently released by the finance minister was a desperate attempt to pull the wool over the public’s eyes. Yes, that memo shows an approval by the Accountant General, however, that approval was for the first phase only. For the government to proceed further, into signing the airport development agreement, approval to act outside of financial instructions would have to be sought and the Accountant-General would have to sign off on this. At the PAC meeting, the Accountant-General was clear that this had not happened, and that the Government did not have the appropriate permissions in place. It is disappointing that the Premier and other members of the OBA Cabinet have been silent over this behavior. However, one would think that this admission would at the very least cause the Governor and the Auditor-General to become interested in what is going on. Instead, thus far it seems to be business as usual. The Progressive Labour Party has articulated our plan to handle corruption in government and to enhance the standards of good governance. We have condemned corruption in any and every form and have expressed our displeasure, regardless of which administration it appears to be under. It is time for the Premier and the OBA government to deal with speculation about possible corruption within their ranks rather than only referring inquiries to the PLP administration. The people of Bermuda deserve better.”
2015. November 21. A memo released by the Ministry of Finance shows that Accountant-General Curtis Stovell approved the Bermuda Government to waive financial instructions on its early deals for an airport redevelopment. However, Shadow Finance Minister David Burt, who heads the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) now examining the airport project, insisted that the present airport development agreement never had Mr Stovell’s permission to go ahead as a sole sourced arrangement. “It does not matter what the minister says — financial instructions are there to be followed and the person there to ensure that is the Accountant-General,” Mr Burt said. He was referring to the release on Thursday night by Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, of the September 2014 memo from Mr Stovell to Anthony Manders, the Financial Secretary, covering the memorandum of understanding and letter of agreement for the project. “He made it clear that this only covers the first stage, and that any additional agreements have to be ratified by him,” Mr Burt said. “Neither the Minister of Finance nor his Cabinet has the power to deviate from financial instructions. If he wants to deviate from them, he has to change them. He does not have the power to ignore them.” The communication was released after Mr Stovell’s appearance before the PAC on Thursday, in which he said he had not been asked or had granted permission for the bypassing of instructions on the airport development agreement.
2015. November 20. The Bermuda Government and its own Accountant-General clashed last night over permission to depart from financial instructions in a bid to redevelop the Island’s airport. Curtis Stovell, the Accountant-General, told a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee yesterday that he had not been asked for approval for the contract to be granted to the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC). But finance minister Bob Richards later released the memorandum from 2014 in which Mr Stovell gave permission to waive financial instruction conditions. Mr Richards said: “The Accountant-General determined the applicability of procurement rules in financial instructions with regard to the proposed relationship between the CCC and Government and, after reviewing all relevant documentation and considering all circumstances, gave his permission to proceed with the project using the government to government approach.” Mr Stovell last night refused to discuss the disparity between his evidence yesterday and his 2014 memo. He referred requests for comment to the Department of Communications and Information. The memo from Mr Stovell, dated from September last year, said: “Under ideal circumstances a competitive tender process is always preferable." But it added that he “gave permission to waive the requirement for three quotations for the services to be provided under the letter agreement.” His memo to Anthony Manders, the financial secretary, added: “My permission is provided on the condition that when available, further information can be provided on CCC’s fees, even at a high level, to enable an evaluation of value for money for the services.” The airport proposal came under the renewed scrutiny of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday, which is composed primarily of Members of Parliament. Asked by David Burt, the PAC chairman, whether he had received a request for bypassing financial instructions on the agreement, or had given approval, Mr Stovell said: “No for both.” Mr Stovell described the initial agreement with Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) as “an agreement to enter an agreement.” While nothing has been spent so far on CCC, a cost centre has since been established with some expenditure on the law firm Bennett Jones and CIBC World Markets. “There is another agreement now where the Government is on the hook,” Mr Burt continued. “Is this not something you would have been required to get permission for?” “In my opinion, yes,” Mr Stovell said, adding that he had not been consulted. Asked by Progressive Labour Party MP Lovitta Foggo if he could tell the PAC that the “contract at present will have the people’s interests at heart”, Mr Stovell replied: “I don’t know that I am prepared to answer that.” The Accountant-General said he had been presented with no case for bypassing the rules, and thus could not give a satisfactory reply. However, questioned by One Bermuda Alliance MP Cole Simons, Mr Stovell conceded that such contracts did proceed on occasion in the Government. Neither he nor Graham Simmons, the interim director of the Office of Project Management and Procurement, would give an assessment of the worthiness of the project — although Mr Stovell told the PAC that he would not see “glaring issues” and not raise them. Questioned next, Mr Simmons said he had not been consulted on the present airport agreement, but was still reviewing the document. Mr Simmons agreed with PLP MP Wayne Furbert that the Government had not followed financial instructions. Repeating the rule that to depart from financial instructions, permission must be sought from the Accountant-General, Mr Stovell closed by telling the PAC: “Departure without permission is not permitted. We have nothing further to say.” The PAC membership agreed with Mr Furbert’s suggestion that the financial secretary be called before the committee for questioning. Echoing a refrain from PAC meetings over years, members on both sides criticised the Government’s financial instructions as lacking any real power. The second part of the meeting heard updates on the Auditor-General’s report on government funds for the years ended March 31, 2010, March 31, 2011 and March 31, 2012. In that report, released on November 13, Auditor-General Heather Jacobs Matthews identified “serious deficiencies” for government oversight of capital development projects. Expressing frustration with the lack of compliance with instructions, Mr Furbert said: “We can’t be expected to sit here knowing that five years from now, the Auditor-General is going to write a report about the airport.” Mr Simons suggested adding financial instructions to the agenda for discussion at the PAC’s next meeting. “This has been going on for years and years and years,” he said. “There is no recourse, no sanctions for the malfeasance.” Replying that he “could not agree more”, Mr Burt said that violations of the instructions could only be made by the accounting officers themselves. “Hopefully, government ministers can lean on the Minister of Finance to table financial instruction so that the Good Governance Act [brought to Parliament by former PLP Premier Paula Cox] can be put into force,” Mr Burt said, referring to “the exasperation of the public, of this committee, and of the Auditor-General.” Speaking afterwards to The Royal Gazette, Mr Burt said he was “shocked that the Accountant-General came here today and said that the OBA Government is violating financial instructions in their approach to the airport.” Ms Jacobs-Matthews said yesterday that although the instructions were “quite robust”, she knew of only one case in which a civil servant had been disciplined.
2015. November 19. There was no other option for the Bermuda Government’s planned airport redevelopment because “we can’t afford it any other way”, finance minister Bob Richards said last night. Non-tendered agreements and resorting to public-private partnerships, or P3s, were a necessary resort for replacing the Island’s ageing airport terminal, the minister told a town hall meeting attended by about 100 people last night. Tendering the project would have been too time-consuming and expensive, Mr Richards told the gathering in a room at the Anglican Cathedral, citing a $10 million consultancy fee for the hospital redevelopment. “To have something off the balance sheets, this is the only show in town,” he replied to a question from the audience, saying the only viable deal was one that would be financed over time by usage of the airport rather than government funding. “We didn’t have the money to do it,” he said. So far, a guaranteed revenue level for the new terminal proposed for LF Wade International Airport remains a work in progress. “The actual numbers are subject to current negotiations,” Mr Richards said, calling a forecast of future air traffic the most critical aspect. “Everybody likes to make fun of me for ‘fuzzy numbers’ — this is a forecast,” he said. “But the guarantee will be a hard number.” Steve Nackan, the president of Aecon — the subcontractor to Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) — estimated that a guaranteed revenue would be available by the early summer of next year. “The hope is that the revenue will always exceed what we think will be the guaranteed revenue,” Mr Nackan added. Asked if the Government would have to bail out the new airport if the project “failed”, Mr Richards said: “The Government of Bermuda will not have to bail this out — period.” The project has been subjected to “a great deal of noise and disinformation”, he told the meeting. The proposal using CCC and Aecon is predicted to cost $249 million and take 40 months to construct, with Aecon as the major shareholder of a special purpose company to build the terminal and have a concession agreement to operate it for the next 30 years. Present airport staff and management will be retained, with some of them going to a special purpose company to run the facility, and regulated by the Government — replacing the Department of Airport Operations with an “airport quango.”
2015. November 18. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Public Accounts will conduct a public hearing tomorrow. Members will discuss the proposed redevelopment of LF Wade International Airport, and receive an update from the Accountant General regarding the move not to put the airport terminal project out to tender. The committee is also expected to receive an update from the Office of Auditor General on its latest reports on the Consolidated Fund of the Government of Bermuda for the years ended March 31, 2010, 2011 and 2012. The Public Accounts Committee, chaired by shadow finance minister David Burt, is comprised of MPs, and is authorized by the House of Assembly to closely examine and report on matters relating to the accounts of the Government of Bermuda and, in particular, to investigate findings reported by the Auditor General in the Auditor’s Annual and other Special Reports. The meeting takes place at 2.30pm in the Senate Chamber and is open to members of the public.
2015. October 22. Airport managers have vowed to address concerns over noise levels at the new private jet facility in St David’s. The terminal was relocated in June from just off Kindley Field Road further east towards Clearwater Beach, just off the main runway near Chapel of Ease Road. The move has sparked concerns from some nearby residents who claim the sound of the engine generators on the planes around the new facility is causing a noise nuisance. But Aaron Adderley, LF Wade International’s general manager, has said the concerns are being taken seriously and that authorities were looking at noise mitigation options. On Tuesday night at a public information session about the airport redevelopment plans Cheryl Hayward-Chew raised concerns about the level of noise when dozens of planes were parked at the facility. She asked the panel of Government ministers and their partners what would be done about the problem under the proposals for redevelopment of LF Wade. “The private jet facility moved down to our area quite recently,” she said. “It’s not the planes coming and going, it’s the sound of the generators on the planes while they are on the ground that causes extensive noise for the nearby residents. There is supposed to be an Environmental Impact Assessment done on the noise level at the airport during take-off and landing but we are asking for a sound study on the impact of the terminal.” Up until this summer private jet operations were based out of Apron II along Kindley Field Road adjacent to Ferry Reach. However, the airport decided to discontinue the use of the substandard facility to use the modern, superior facilities at Apron IV. Mr Adderley, who was also attending the public meeting organized by Government responded to Ms Hayward-Chew’s question. He said: “The old facility was not the kind of facility that we wanted to portray to our high- net-worth travelers. We wanted to have a modern, purpose-built facility that Bermuda could be proud of instead. We recognise there have been complaints raised for the first time about noise at the airport. This is not, however, uncommon for airports around the world. We are committed to addressing the issue and are very sensitive to the concerns raised by area residents. We are committed to carrying out a noise study and identifying any noise mitigation options that are open to us. We hope to make things more comfortable for those residents who have raised concerns. We are going into our slower season now and will look to put in place new measures to try and address those concerns.” A spokesperson from Cedar Aviation Services, which operates the new terminal, added: “As soon as we were directly notified about the complaints, we asked for a meeting. The meeting was subsequently hosted on site the next day because Cedar wanted to be proactive and ensure it understood the specific nature of the complaints. Since the meeting, pilots have asked to be as mindful as possible in running engines and ancillary systems to mitigate any noise and exhaust pollution. In addition both Cedar and the Department of Civil Aviation are working closely to identify any other solutions to minimize any inconvenience to its neighbors.”
2015. October 21. The firm tasked with building the new airport under the Bermuda Government’s redevelopment plans has pledged to retain all staff from the Department of Airport Operations. Steve Nackan, president of Aecon Concessions, said his firm had been extremely impressed by the airport’s workforce and insisted the $250 million project would provide hundreds of jobs. However Mr Nackan, together with those behind the public private partnership (PPP) that will be guaranteed by the Canadian Commercial Corporation, came under fire from opponents of the project during a public information session at Penno’s Wharf last night. Lawrence Scott, the shadow minister for transport, questioned why the proposed new airport was smaller and maintained that all revenue from the airport should go back into the facility rather than end up as profits for Aecon. Mr Nackan responded that the new terminal would be bigger with more gates — although a final design was yet to be finalized — and there was provision under international regulations whereby Aecon could make a reasonable return on investment in the project. Jason Hayward, president of the Bermuda Public Services Union, said the union was fundamentally opposed to PPPs and asked about Aecon’s investment return. Mr Nackan replied: “Unions around the world express the same concerns, but there is a tremendous body of evidence to support the fact that PPPs work. We are in the early stages of design, but the notion that money is leaving the country is not true, all of the money generated by the airport will be ring fenced in this project.” During an increasingly heated question and answer session at the end of the presentation Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, confirmed that the Government had passed the point where they could pull out of the deal without incurring penalties. He said that Aecon had initially spent $2.5 million on the project and had incurred more expenses that the Government would be liable for it was to withdraw from the arrangement. “The idea that we can just cut and run is no longer on the table. When we are doing a project like this we have to make a commitment if there is to be progress.” Last night’s Government information session attracted more than 200 people including politicians from both sides of the divide as well as leaders of the People’s Campaign including Chris Furbert, the Bermuda Industrial Union president, and Reverend Nicholas Tweed, who asked what percentage on top of the $2.5 million Bermuda would have to pay Aecon. Reverend Tweed claimed the whole process behind the redevelopment plans undermined freedom of speech and dialogue. Earlier in the night Shawn Crockwell, the Minister of Tourism Development and Transport, and Mr Richards outlined the benefits of the PPP agreement for Bermuda. Mr Richards said the project was the best deal for the country insisting it would be paid for by the users of the airport and not the Government and would not add to Bermuda’s debt. While Mr Crockwell maintained a new airport would be a “game changer” for the Island that would have an economic impact everyone would benefit from. Grant Gibbons, the Minister for Economic Development, revealed that Government would be issuing a Request for Proposals for a solar farm on The Finger peninsula in the near future “to compliment the airport project”. “We are hopeful that this solar voltaic farm will be of use in terms of providing the peak energy needs of the airport during the day, at a good cost and supply some of Bermuda’s electricity as well.” Meanwhile Jacques Greffe, vice-president of contract management at CCC, said it was CCC’s job to guarantee the performance of the contract as well as ensure it was done on time and on budget. He said CCC was fully behind the project and also confirmed Aecon had initially brought the project to CCC’s attention “to see if we were interested.” Mr Richards later suggested that opponents of the project had drawn “incorrect inferences” from this fact, and maintained that Government had not approached and did not even know who Aecon were when the construction firm approached CCC about the potential of the project. He said: “Aecon brought the idea to CCC but it was not done with the knowledge of the Bermuda Government.” Mr Nackan told the meeting that extremely stringent procedures were in place to ensure Bermuda would receive value for money and maintained the deal was not privatization. He added: “We have met with over 200 organisations, agencies and people so far. We believe a new airport will serve as a beacon to other investors and boost their confidence to bring investment into the country.”
2015. October 2. A US-based company has won the contract to provide support services at Bermuda’s airport. CI² Aviation, based in Atlanta, Georgia, beat BAS Serco to provide support services at the LF Wade International Airport. Its general manager Aaron Adderley said: “We believe that this change in service provider will help bring about even greater career opportunities and will help better position us to pursue some of the strategic air traffic management goals we have in mind for our operation.” The existing contract, which BAS Serco has held for 20 years, is due to expire at the end of March next year. The company employs 40 people at the airport under the Department of Airport Operations — but a spokeswoman for the Bermuda Government said that it was expected they would all be retained by the new operator. BAS Serco currently provides air traffic control, ground electronic and the Bermuda Weather Service. A government spokeswoman said: “In preparation for that, Airport Operations initiated a comprehensive procurement process seeking proposals for the provision of specific aviation services These bids were received and evaluated by Airport Operations management. The bid submitted by CI² Aviation proved to be the preferred bid. As such, Airport Operations has opted not to renew BAS Serco’s contract.” Mr Adderley said: “BAS Serco has been a staple at this airport. They have held this important contract for over 20 years. It has helped to foster the careers of many Bermudians in both aviation and weather forecasting and we’re grateful for the work they have done.” Government added that CI² is an award-winning company and is the only minority-owned firm in the US that provides air traffic control services to the federal government. The company also holds air traffic control contracts in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, with Bermuda now its third offshore contract. The Government spokeswoman said: “The company has confirmed its desire to establish roots in Bermuda and to retain, hire and develop Bermudians.” Mr Adderley backed the Government view. He said: “Specifically, their longstanding relationship with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and their air traffic management of airpace bordering US national airspace was viewed as a strong advantage given that our own airspace also neighbors that of the US and, for now, is presently managed by the FAA. Financially, CI² Aviation’s bid was extremely competitive. We were excited that it offered prospects of enhanced training and career development opportunities for local employees that the company could offer through its other contracts.”
2015. September 21. The Bermuda Government has moved to quell concerns that jobs may be lost at the airport under its multimillion-dollar redevelopment plans. Last week at a public meeting in the East End Lawrence Scott, the Shadow Minister of Transport, raised concerns that staff at LF Wade had been told that they could not be guaranteed jobs if the project went ahead. But a Government spokesman told The Royal Gazette that some existing employees would merge in the new airport operators business model, while others will staff a new airport quango. “Given the industry specific skill sets that officers of the Department of Airport Operations (DAO) possess and given their overall experience levels, it is expected that some of the existing employees of DAO will merge into the new Airport Operator’s business model,” the spokesman added. “Other DAO employees will staff the new airport quango which is to be established in order to provide oversight of the airport operator.” At Friday’s meeting Mr Scott also announced that Aecon — the developer — had “pulled out” of the Quito airport arrangement in Ecuador, which it had built with the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC). The spokesman said the claim was inaccurate. He added: “The facts are that Aecon sold its 45.5 per cent interest in Quito Airport. This was just a normal business transaction. President of Aecon Concessions Steve Nackan has stated: ‘Aecon has been involved with the Quito Airport for over 14 years — taking the project from its infancy, through development, financing, construction, operating the existing Quito airport from 2006 to 2013, and into two and a half years of full operation of the new award-winning airport. From an operational perspective, the new airport has reached a ‘steady state’ and from an investment perspective, is now well suited to long-term institutional ownership. It is typical that at this stage in an infrastructure project’s life cycle, to see investments transition from the originating project sponsor, developer and builder to long-term institutional investors, and this transition is generally perceived as a further marker of a successful development project.’” The spokesman told The Royal Gazette that after the Island’s new terminal was open, Bermuda’s consent was still required for any change of control. He added: “Subject to certain very narrow exceptions, the current development agreement requires Aecon Construction Group to be the joint owner and lead shareholder of the Company that will be operating the airport throughout the construction of the Airport, and thereafter Aecon Construction Group must control the Airport Operating Company. The Government must provide its prior written consent for any changes to this situation. The Government retains absolute discretion for this decision. After the terminal opening date, Bermuda’s consent is still required for any change of control but will be given if the proposed transferee has the financial resources, experience and expertise required to step into that role.” Last week’s Progressive Labour Party town-hall meeting attracted more than 100 people in the East End and was the third such event organized by the Opposition. During the presentation Mr Scott claimed that there would be less gates at the new facility. The Government spokesman responded: “The new airport will have seven new boarding bridges to enhance passenger level of service. There are no boarding bridges at the current terminal. The new terminal will have 14 stands to accommodate passenger aircraft compared to the current layout, which only has eight gates/stands and one of those is used for cargo.”
2015. September 18. The Progressive Labour Party reiterated its staunch opposition to the Bermuda Government’s plans to redevelop the airport last night. More than 100 people attended the party’s third town-hall meeting at St George’s Cricket Club to hear David Burt, the Shadow Minister of Finance, and Lawrence Scott, the Shadow Minister of Transport condemn the One Bermuda Alliance’s “privatisation” proposals. The $250 million project will be financed by a private-sector developer that will take over management of airport operations for 30 years. Government has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a branch of the Canadian Government, which selected Canada-based Aecon Group Ltd as the developer and concessionaire. Mr Scott told last night’s meeting that “new information has come across my desk” that highlighted possible consequences of the deal for future generations. He said: “Most of the major building jobs would not go to Bermudians, they would fly people in. I am made to understand that Aecon has pulled out of the Quito, Ecuador airport (which it had previously built with CCC) and sold it. Why? Because a better deal came along and that is why we are all here today.” Mr Scott said that under the PLP’s plans to create a financially separate Airport Authority no Bermudians would lose their jobs. He added: “I am made to understand that the persons working in Airport Operations have already been told they can not be guaranteed their jobs when this goes through. My understanding is the new airport is smaller than the airport we have now with less gates. We have eight at the moment, the new airport will have seven or six.” Several PLP MPs including leader Marc Bean, Derrick Burgess, Michael Weeks, Lovitta Foggo as well as St George’s Mayor Quinell Francis and John Barritt attended last night’s meeting that began at 7pm. Mr Burt told the meeting the country would lose $1.6 billion in revenue by giving away the airport to a Canadian company to run for 30 years. He described the project as “a personal, political project of the Minister of Finance.” Mr Burt added: “After we gave our last town-hall meeting, the Government has signed a further agreement with Aecon that now ties the Government of Bermuda. Now, all of us are on the hook. This is hugely irresponsible of the Minister of Finance to commit the Government to spending money without looking at other options.” The Royal Gazette reached out to the Ministry of Finance last night for comment on the assertions made in the PLP meeting but we did not receive a comment by the time we went to press. Previously Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, has said that the jobs and compensation of the staff at the airport will be protected, and that more jobs will be created there. He has insisted taxpayers would get value for money under the public-private partnership and that Bermuda would acquire a strategic asset without incurring any more debt.
2015. August 25. An independent analysis of the Bermuda Government’s proposal to redevelop the terminal at the LF Wade International Airport lays bare how bad the deal is, according to Diallo Rabain of the Progressive Labour Party. However, One Bermuda Alliance senators told the Upper House that the report had been commissioned by the Government to identify gaps in the tentative agreement, which yesterday reached phase two of a four-point process. Senator Rabain said the report showed a government “being led by the Canadian Commercial Corporation telling them what they want to hear, and a minister content to believe it”. He pointed to an unflattering assessment of the project’s value for money, along with various commercial and financial cases, that countered Finance Minister Bob Richards’s depiction of it as the “deal of a lifetime.” Sen Rabain also pointed out Mr Richards’s warning of the hidden costs associated with public-private partnerships in a 2009 United Bermuda Party Budget reply, when he was Shadow Minister of Finance. Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, argued in reply that the terms of the report — which follow those of the British Government’s “Green Book” regulations — were far tougher than local financial instructions. “At no time has Bermuda signed up to the Green Book way of doing business,” Sen Fahy said. The penalties for Bermuda backing out of the deal would be mild, he added, covering only the costs undertaken thus far. The agreement is only starting at “the value-for-money stage”, the minister said. The Senate heard that the airport now has 1,359 people working on its premises, with Junior Minister of National Security Jeff Baron hazarding a guess that 1,000 of them were Bermudian. OBA senator Lynne Woolridge said the aim of the report was to “further the development project — to find out what’s missing”. The Deloitte report, which was not debated in the House of Assembly, came to the Senate through a take-note motion brought by Sen Rabain.
2015. August 24. Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, yesterday signed interim agreements with the Canadian Commercial Corporation for the redevelopment of LF Wade International Airport. While the minister said the contracts did not guarantee the controversial project will move forward, he described them as another step in the incremental contract development process. “The Letters of Agreement contemplates that a further agreement, called the Airport Development Agreement (ADA), must be entered into in order to set out and describe the ambit, principles and subject matter of the project’s final and definitive agreements,” Mr Richards said at a press conference at the airport. “Phase one of this incremental contract process, which consists of exploration, scoping and data completion, has now been completed. This ADA marks the beginning of phase two, which will complete negotiation of definitive, detailed terms to oversee the project’s implementation and move it to financial close. “This will include the framework definition, design and detail costing, finance and detail finalization of the contracts, commitments and liabilities, the independent fairness assessment, local tendering and the addressing of legal issues. This means moving the project forward with Aecon and CCC to finalise the design and financing of the airport’s redevelopment, including construction, operation and maintenance.” He added that phase two is expected to take about a year, after which there will be a final contract which must be signed before construction can commence. The minister also defended the Bermuda Government’s handling of the project, which has come under fire repeatedly due to a lack of tendering and concerns that the deal would amount to privatization of the facility. “The alternative to what we have done so far is no airport,” he said. “The only alternative is no airport at all. We are committed to developing Bermuda, to providing jobs, to constructing a new strategic asset which is needed, and the only way we could go forward with this is this way. “The traditional tender process which everyone keeps talking about would result in the Government increasing the debt by over a quarter of a billion dollars, which is not something this Government will allow. The alternative being what it is, this is the way to go.” Minister of Tourism Development and Transport Shawn Crockwell, meanwhile, said the existing terminal was not meeting the first-class standard that visitors and residents expect. “This Government, your Government, has put together a plan that provides so many benefits for Bermudians. Importantly, it will take a hodgepodge of buildings which we have been using since the 1940s, together with additions and Band-Aids here and there, and replace it with Bermuda’s first purpose-built terminal for civilian air traffic. We have been fortunate in finding such high-end partners to help us achieve this objective.” Martin Zablocki, president and CEO of CCC, said the corporation was excited to be working with Bermuda on a project which will create jobs for Bermudians, both through subcontractors and add-on business, while Aecon Group executive chairman John Beck said it would take great care to deliver infrastructure which supports Bermuda’s economy and society. “We are confident that we can do this for Bermuda through a collaborative and affordable process using Aecon’s award-winning airport development expertise,” he said. “Using a whole-of-country approach, we will work alongside other companies to maximize employment opportunities for Bermudians and bring best-in-class safety, construction and environmental standards to the project.” The Progressive Labour Party has repeatedly criticised the One Bermuda Alliance’s approach over the airport redevelopment, and last week suggested the creation of an airport authority that would allow Bermudians to take advantage of projected revenues. Mr Richards, however, dismissed the claim that the deal would cost Bermuda $620 million in revenue over the course of the next 30 years, dismissing the figures as speculation. “These are coming from people I like to call number bombers,” he said. “They can speculate, they can pontificate, they can prevaricate. They can do that because they don’t have to deliver anything. As ministers of this government we have to deliver, so we can’t throw numbers around willy-nilly. The people who know these numbers are the people who are in this room. The people have to ask themselves do the people in this room, Aecon, CCC and the Minister of Finance, know more about this than people who have never built anything? Aecon built the CN Tower. And the new terminal at the Toronto Airport. We are dealing with experts here. I really think the number bombers need to let us do the deep dive into the data to prove the economics of this project, and that’s what phase two is. A commitment to do a deep dive into the details of this project, to come up with the economics of this projects. The number bombers are going to continue to speculate, pontificate and prevaricate, but we are getting on with the people’s business here.”
Airport deal signed, see above story
2015. August 13. Maintenance costs at LF Wade International Airport are rising “exponentially” and each time a major hurricane hits the Island taxpayers will incur millions of dollars in repair costs, Finance Minister Bob Richards has warned. The vulnerability of the airport to storms is one of the major arguments for the Bermuda Government’s plans to build a new airport terminal in a less hurricane-prone location, Mr Richards said. The $250 million project will be financed by a private-sector developer — meaning there will be no need for Government to add to its debt — who will then take over management of airport operations for a 30-year period. Government has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a branch of the Canadian government, which has in turn selected Canada-based Aecon Group Ltd as the developer and concessionaire. However, in an update on the project in response to questions from The Royal Gazette, Mr Richards said Government is still more than a year away from signing any contract and that ground will not be broken before the second half of next year. The opposition Progressive Labour Party (PLP) has raised concerns about the airport revenue that will be lost over 30 years, but Mr Richards said expenses would be offloaded too. “The current terminal is in the worst possible location insofar as hurricanes are concerned — too close to Castle Harbour and vulnerable to storm waves riding storm surges,” Mr Richards said. “That’s what happened with Fabian, with seawater up to the ceiling. Spending good money, $12.5 million after Fabian and over $2 million after Faye and Gonzalo, will be repeat events if the terminal is not moved to a safer location and higher elevation. As our principal gateway to the world we cannot have an airport so vulnerable to hurricanes. The new terminal at its proposed locale will lower that risk materially.” Taxpayers made a small loss on airport operations in the fiscal year through March 2015, according to government figures. The Department of Airport Operations took in $10.7 million, from sources such as landing fees, commercial passenger charges and aviation security fees. When $13.4 million of airport departure taxes are included, total revenue was $24.1 million. Airport expenditure, including compensation for 43 staff, maintenance, energy and professional services, totaled $24.4 million. In the 2015-16 fiscal year, an increase in the departure tax from $35 to $50 per passenger will increase total airport revenue to $30.8 million, while expenses are projected to fall to $19.3 million. As no deal has been struck with a concessionaire, it is not yet clear whether Government would maintain any share of those future revenues or expenses. Deloitte was brought in to analyze the project and to compare it with UK government “Green Book” standards for procurement. Deloitte found gaps between what the Government has done so far and the UK standards, required to make a “full business case”. Since the UK is responsible for Bermuda’s external affairs and the airport project has involved working with a Canada government entity in the shape of CCC, Government House was consulted on the project. Last month the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office sent a letter of entrustment to Governor George Fergusson, stating that “the United Kingdom Government and the Government of Bermuda must agree on what measures are required to address the deficiencies that are identified by Deloitte.” Mr Richards said: “Government is in the process of promulgating responses and information that will satisfy the gaps relative to HM Treasury’s Green Book as outlined by the Deloitte report. When this is complete we will fulfill the requirements of the entrustment letter. Nowhere in the Deloitte report does it refer to ‘deficiencies’. This word can only be found in the entrustment letter. In so far as Bermuda law and regulations are concerned there are no deficiencies. Considering where we are in the process, the findings in the report are not surprising and we still have opportunities to close the gaps identified in the Deloitte report before entering into any contracts.” Mr Richards said Government had agreed voluntarily to the Deloitte review, in the belief that its findings would improve the project’s value for money and reduce risk. “Merely because Deloitte did not find lengthy memoranda or explanatory documents regarding, for instance a ‘full business case’, does in no way indicate that such matters were not considered, discussed and deliberated on in the Ministry of Finance or the Cabinet, because they definitely were,” the Finance Minister stressed. “Bermuda Financial Instructions (FI), the set of rules that govern financial procedures under which the Bermuda Government operates, do not require or even suggest that such memoranda or documents be prepared.” Such documents were “not boxes that we have to tick in the process mandated by FI”, he added. Under UK guidelines, a “full business case” would be required before making a “Gate 3” decision, or a final investment decision. “It is important to note that the Government is not yet ready to make a Gate 3 investment decision,” Mr Richards said. “We are over a year from making this decision. So we have the opportunity to close the gaps that have been identified before entering into contracts for the concession with the selected private sector supplier. The project will not break ground before the second half of 2016.” Some observers have questioned whether Bermuda needs a new airport terminal right now. Mr Richards said storm vulnerability, the benefits of economic stimulus from the project and keeping up with competitors were all valid reasons. “During the 1930s the US borrowed billions and built iconic structures like the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hoover Dam, the George Washington Bridge and the Empire State Building to reduce unemployment,” Mr Richards said. “We need to similarly stimulate our economy, but we don’t have that proportionate borrowing capacity. With the project financed in this way, this Government can stimulate the Bermuda economy during difficult economic times, create construction jobs and longer-term retail jobs in the process. This terminal is an integral part of our recovery strategy.” Rival international business centres and tourism destinations were building new airport terminals, he added. “Bahamas has just finished one. Cayman is building one in phases. Barbados built a new airport some time ago. If we are to compete and live up to our brand, ‘First Tier, First Class, First World’, we cannot have a third-world airport. While you may say nobody will come to Bermuda because of the airport, people’s overall impressions of the jurisdiction will definitely by colored by their travel and airport experience. Being First Tier demands investment to make it so.” When private-sector operators take over public-sector facilities, there are numerous instances of jobs, wages and benefits being slashed. Mr Richards said this would not be the scenario with Bermuda’s new terminal. “If you look at the Quito, Ecuador airport, which CCC/Aecon built, the scenario you described did not happen,” he said. “The jobs and compensation of the staff at our airport will be protected. In fact, more jobs will be created there. In the Quito airport, 99 per cent of the jobs there were filled by locals.” The Finance Minister argued that taxpayers would get value for money. “Bermuda will acquire a strategic asset that its residents as well its customers will enjoy for many years to come,” Mr Richards said. “It will be more efficient, both in terms of energy use as well as operationally. It will enhance the retail opportunities offered to travelers. It will be handicap friendly and protect travelers from the vagaries of the weather. It will reduce maintenance costs which are currently on an exponential growth curve. It will offer easy expansion options should that need arise.”
2015. February 13. Bermuda’s modernization of its air traffic management will allow the Island to become a certified air navigation service provider, Transport Minister Shawn Crockwell told Members of Parliament this morning upon resumption at the House of Assembly. “Significant costs” involved in the process will be recouped in user charges, Mr Crockwell added. The Island’s certification as a provider would allow Bermuda to expand its area of airspace for air traffic management from the existing five-mile radius, out to as much as 50 miles — and potentially farther “at a much later stage”, Mr Crockwell said. Expanded operations should be in place to support “the anticipated increase in flight operations surrounding the upcoming America’s Cup”. The updates came as the Transport Minister rose to inform the House of his London visit in December, accompanied by local aviation officials, to present the findings of the Bermuda Approach Control and Airspace Modernization Feasibility Survey.
2015. January 31. Transport Minister Shawn Crockwell's travel expenses for a three-day trip to the UK to meet aviation experts cost nearly $6,000. Mr Crockwell and a team of experts flew to London late last year to make a presentation to five officials from the UKs Department of Transport on Bermuda's Approach Control and Airspace Modernization Feasibility Study. The study was conducted as part of LF Wade International's plans to adjust and update its runway to abide by new international civil aviation landing regulations. The project has since been completed. The trip took place between December 14 and 16, and Mr Crockwell's total expenses were $5,956. His air travel cost a little more than $4,400, while his accommodation in London was $1,142. The Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport made a presentation to five officials from the Department for Transport on the summary findings of Bermuda's Approach Control and Airspace Modernization Feasibility Study. Minister Crockwell was accompanied by Thomas Dunstan, director of the Department of Civil Aviation; Bob Withers, manager of air operations; Mike Paone, project manager from Boeing-Jeppessen; and Aaron Adderley, general manager of LF Wade International Airport, who were in the UK attending other prearranged meetings. The UK officials included Dr Adam Simmons, deputy director of International Aviation, Safety and Environment Division; Duncan Nicholls, International Aviation, Safety and Environment Division; Karen Neal, desk office for Bermuda at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Mike Alcock, International Aviation Safety and Environment Division; and Maria Boyce, CEO of Airspace Safety Support International." Following the presentation, the UK Department for Transport offered its full support of the Bermuda Airspace initiative, acknowledging that the UK anticipated Bermuda would look to assume management of its own Terminal Airspace from the FAA, when Bermuda was willing and able to do so. Minister Crockwell's expenses also included $161 on ground transportation, $217 on meals and $25 on miscellaneous expenses.
2015. January 23. LookBermuda has officially launched the first phase of a photography installation at the airport in collaboration with National Geographic photographer David Liittschwager. Images of Bermuda’s unique fauna and flora will now be the first thing visitors see when they step foot in LF Wade International Airport. The first set of photographs being displayed is the result of expeditions on Nonsuch Island by LookBermuda’s Jean Pierre Rouja and Mr Liittschwager. They worked with terrestrial conservation officer Jeremy Madeiros of the Department of Conservation as well as collector of marine specimens Chris Flook on three separate expeditions in 2014. During the trips the team produced more than 180 images of the unique flora and fauna. The imagery is the basis of The Nonsuch Island Expeditions airport installation, with sponsored images from the ongoing expeditions printed a minimum of 4ft by 4ft, and installed in busy areas throughout the airport. Mr Rouja said: “We had assisted David on another project and wanted to apply his process to our ongoing efforts to showcase Nonsuch Island. The shooting started with newly hatched cahow chicks and has been expanded to showcase the biodiversity of the Nonsuch Island Nature Reserve and its surrounding waters. We are using Nonsuch as a lens through which to document Bermuda’s biodiversity photographing — not only the endemic and endangered species, which can be found there but also more common species found around Bermuda. This package is proving to be quite popular as not only does it give a much-needed visual boost to the airport but it also gives the general public and the schools a closer look at Nonsuch Island, to which access is normally restricted.” LookBermuda’s exclusive contract with the airport extends for the next several years and will be displayed throughout the upcoming America’s Cup. As part of the ongoing airport project, LookBermuda is developing various other themes with large scale scenic panoramic images by Mr Rouja and underwater photography by Chris Burville. Their images are being earmarked for some of the larger open walls and include panoramic murals exceeding eight by 40 feet in the arrivals corridor. Sponsorship is still being sought for the project. General manager at LF Wade International Aaron Adderley said: “The airport is pleased to partner with LookBermuda on this much-anticipated project. The photography highlighting the Island’s natural beauty is spectacular and when completed will allow us to add a splash of colour and vibrancy that our visitors and residents can both enjoy.” Members of the public not using the airport will still be able to see the prints in two MobileArt exhibits — the first as a mobile pop-up show and the second as an educational exhibit that will rotate throughout the Island’s schools along with accompanying curriculum and activities. For more information or to become a sponsor for the ongoing project visit www.nonsuchisland.com.
2014. November 29. Debate over the proposed airport redevelopment erupted in the House of Assembly again after Finance Minister Bob Richards tabled a draft letter of entrustment from the UK. Mr Richards told the House that while the Government is of the legal position that the entrustment would not be necessary, the Ministry remains in talks with Government House to ensure that all parties are on board, describing it as "a matter of belts and braces. We have a long-term relationship with the UK Government and we want to keep that relationship so we want everyone on board. Just because we ask someone doesn't mean we're required to ask someone." Government announced earlier this month that it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) to redevelop the LF Wade International Airport. Under the proposed deal, Bermuda would receive a state of the art $200 million air terminal, which would be gradually paid for using future revenues. However, the Progressive Labour Party has repeatedly attacked the proposal, describing it as "privatization through the back door without a tendering process." Speaking in the House of Assembly yesterday, Mr Richards said the Ministry came to the decision that they did not require a letter of entrustment after receiving legal advice from international law firm Bennett Jones, with the office of the Attorney General involved. Asked by Opposition members if the law firm had a relationship with CCC, Mr Richards said he was not aware of any and that if there was a conflict of interest the firm would be required to say so. He was then asked if he was aware that Bennett Jones had represented CCC in respect to a review of engineering firm SNC-Lavalin. Mr Richards said he did not know about it but that it had "nothing to do with Bermuda." Questioned by Opposition Leader Marc Bean about how CCC was selected, Mr Richards said he and the Ministry was aware of CCC through their experience in the financial services industry and the Canadian body had ticked all the boxes. Mr Richards also responded to a series of questions regarding the project's time line, reiterating that he received approval from the Accountant General to move forward with the project before the Memorandum of Understanding had been signed, however he declined to provide the House with a copy of the Accountant General's approval. "If this matter ever goes to the Public Accounts Committee, they can do what they want to do, but I don't believe it's appropriate to question my veracity on the floor of the House," he said. He later added that under PATI legislation the public will be able to request such information. The Finance Minister also stated that the first draft entrustment letter was received prior to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with CCC, but that the Cabinet had already approved the MOU in July. "We had a legal opinion that we didn't need a letter of entrustment and on that basis we scheduled the signing and the announcement of the signing of the MOU. It's the view of the Government that the letter of entrustment was not required. It's not relevant."
2014. November 20. Bermuda's new airport terminal would include maximum shopping and restaurant options, as well as jetways at eight gates to protect passengers from the elements. Aaron Adderley, head of the Department of Airport Operations, told The Royal Gazette that part of its revenue could come from re-purposing vacant runway space for alternative energy. Mr Adderley also cautioned that the figure of $200 million cited as a price tag by Finance Minister Bob Richards was by no means final, even if it had become ingrained in the public's mind. Government sealed an agreement with the Canadian Commercial Corporation on November 10 to build a re-purposed terminal, which would be gradually paid off under a tailored public-private partnership. Asked about airport revenues, Mr Adderley pointed out that while the layout of the Government figures made the airport look like a money-losing venture, LF Wade International Airport actually takes in $3million to $3.5m annually when departure tax is factored in. "The numbers are not strong enough to pay for $200 million," Mr Adderley said. "Future revenue streams had to be capable of ensuring financial viability." Converting the vacant finger of runway into a solar energy facility has been discussed for several years now. According to a 2011 Belco report, the runway, which juts south of the airport into Castle Harbour, could accommodate an 80-acre solar farm. Mr Adderley said the airport would benefit substantially from any such re-purposing. "It's high on our agenda and is part of our three-year strategic plan. The alternative energy site is critical. Even if we didn't have this project, from an operational standpoint our need is two fold: increase our revenues and decrease our costs. Alternative energy is an option which would certainly allow us to minimise our power consumption costs. We have to wait for other legislative regulatory changes to be advanced by another Ministry before we can finally move forward. A new terminal would necessarily have modest retail options, given Bermuda's limited traffic. We're never going to have the volume necessary to justify having a retail mall. However, we want to ensure that there is a choice in food and beverage offerings and retail goods in general. We have a fine line to walk to ensure that there is enough of a choice for passengers, but at the same time, ensuring that there is enough passenger volume to sustain multiple vendors. Aspects of the design, plus the new location at the west end of the airport, date back to a 2008 master plan that had been too good to leave sitting on someone's desk unused. That plan called for the proposed site that we will be using for the new development. It was chosen to avoid the storm surge that threatens the existing site located so close to Castle Harbour. It will also enable us to minimise the amount of work we have to do with our taxi ways and apron network. There will be a need for some changes to the network, but it will be minimized. Our objective is to take those initial design concepts and modify it to ensure that it fits within the new financial parameters we have for the project. Parts of the terminal facility date back to the 1940s and we have met or exceeded its life expectancy. Though we've done a fair job in hiding the warts so to speak, the roofing in parts of the facility, plumbing, sewage and other mechanical systems, are in need of replacement in many instances. The cost of maintaining an ageing infrastructure is highly cost prohibitive."
2014. November 10. Bermuda’s “new airport” has been signed into being with a redevelopment agreement between Government and the Canadian Commercial Corporation, Finance Minister Bob Richards announced this morning. The Island will get a roughly new $200 million terminal building, with the expectation of “hundreds” of construction jobs generated. At a press conference in the Cabinet Office, the Finance Minister hailed the redevelopment plan as “one of the most important capital projects ever undertaken on our island shores”, after signing the agreement with CCC’s Luc Alari. Groundbreaking could commence as early as next year, with the project potentially taking three years to complete. The project will play “a crucial role in the renaissance of the Bermuda economy”, Mr Richards said, under a public-private partnership with CCC. Pledging “value for money”, Mr Alari said CCC “also brings a lot of transparency and governance — we are a Canadian Government organization; this is something we adhere to. We will make sure the project is built on time, on budget and on schedule.” Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell and new Junior Minister Vic Ball also attended the signing, which Mr Crockwell called a historic occasion for Bermuda, delivering a “new, attractive and sophisticated modern facility” that would enhance the Island’s tourism product. “It will impress everyone that passes through it, visitors and locals alike, and it will make that first impression for those coming to Bermuda, a lasting positive impression that is aligned with the Bermuda brand — quality, first class and world class. The construction of a new purpose built airport terminal is long overdue and this Government was determined to make it happen — we were very cognizant of the many obstacles presented to us and especially the financial implications that could have prevented this from happening. I am most pleased with the financial creativity that has brought us here today. This public private partnership between the Bermuda Government and the Canadian Commercial Corporation does indeed represent a renaissance for Bermuda — to our economy and to our product. I know that we can all agree that the success of this project will be legendary.” Construction is expected to take three years, in a new location that Mr Richards said would be “between the roundabout and Stonecrusher Corner.” The project’s financing model demanded “total transparency, adhering to international best practices”, he said. Mr Richards added that the redevelopment would require no initial expenditure by Bermuda — and that the project would be financially self-sustaining. CCC will select a Canadian developer, as its remit is to concentrate solely on Canadian entities. Title to the airport and adjacent lands will remain with the Bermuda Government. The project did not go out to international tender.
2014. June 9. Bermudians were told they will have to look for outside funding to pay for a new airport. Tourism and Transport Minister Shawn Crockwell said that a modernized airport would cost hundreds of millions of dollars — money Government did not have. “What the Government wants to do and what Government is committed to doing is create a better airport, a new airport, so it can be modern and complement the product we want for our guests when they come here,” he said. But Mr Crockwell added: “This is an issue of affordability. that is what is primarily driving the decisions of the Government and the options we are looking at.” He was speaking after Opposition MP Lawrence Scott, the shadow Minister for Tourism and Transport, introduced a motion to debate the advantages of establishing an Airport Authority to run the Island’s air terminal. The Shadow Transport Minister said the 43 jobs in the Department of Airport Operations would be put at risk if a public-private partnership assumed stewardship of Bermuda’s airport, telling the House such an investor would “get rid of them because they wouldn’t know them”. He added that privatization meant a profit-driven administration — and there was nothing to stop management giving themselves enormous salaries, while shedding workers. On the subject of an Airport Authority, Mr Scott said that “almost all” of the jurisdictions competing with Bermuda handled their visitors through an Airport Authority. Mr Crockwell said a number of methods could be used to get funding for the airport — including a public-private partnership, which would involve a private operator being given a 30-40 year lease to modernize and run the airport. And he said negotiations with any private investor could include negotiating protection for the existing Government-employed staff. Finance Minister Bob Richards added the airport was being “held together by Band-Aids. We need to have an airport that is consistent with the global brand which is Bermuda — a brand we hope denotes high quality and high services. If the Government can’t afford to build it ourselves, we going to have to get outside investors and that will require some kind of creativity — probably a public-private partnership of some sort.” But he ruled out and outright sell-off of the airport to a private body. Shadow Finance Minister said Government should not lose control of “a prized Government asset.” And Opposition leader Marc Bean added that any airport redevelopment should be done in tandem with improving access and replacing the ageing Causeway — although he said that the cost of that should be borne by the entire country, rather than the people of the east end of the Island.
2012/2013 alterations costing Bermuda taxpayers $4.6 million were approved for Bermuda’s airport. The eight-month project was required as much of the Ferry Reach skyline presented obstacles to aircraft under tighter global regulations. Objects now defined as obstacles include the hilltops, trees and houses in the approach zone. The rules are set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). As a result, planes descending to the 9,753ft strip technically known as Runway 1-2 now make a slightly steeper approach to allow sufficient clearance and the markings and lights on it will be moved 587ft forward. Florida-based HR Pruitt was hired for the job. Old markings were scrubbed off and new paint and asphalt were laid down. The entire runway was last resurfaced in 2003, although part of the runway’s 1-2 portion got repainted in 2007 along with the “apron”, where aircraft park. The project is known technically as visual slope segment penetration, or VSSP, one of those alphabet soup acronyms within aviation. In addition to moving the runway marking, there was a need to relocate the edge lights, add central lane lighting not there presently, to also enable aircraft to land in Bermuda when the visibility is low, for example if there’s a thunderstorm cell overhead. With this additional lighting, aircraft in more inclement weather conditions can be helped. Precision approach procedure indicators, which give pilots guidance on their vertical approach, were moved.
2010. May 31. New designs for a replacement airport terminal which could cost between $300 million and $400 million were unveiled. The current facility, which in some areas dates back to the 1940s, had reached its functional end. Also, it very susceptible to storm surge. A new facility is needed to meet the new aviation regulations coming forward. Government has decided it would be best to build the new facility on a brown-field site and not on the current facility, to move from the old facility to the new one without disruptions. Present estimates range between $300 and $400 million. The new terminal would be built north of the existing building at the western-most end of the fence-line. It would also include a ferry terminal for both the public ferry and any hotels that decided to transport their guests from the airport. Construction could take between three and four years between development, breaking ground to moving. While the financing is debated and decision to move forward is on hold, the airport is working towards improving its product, which includes taking control of Bermuda's airspace, presently almost entirely run by the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) in New York. Other upgrades that need to be put in place include lights down the middle of the runway to help land planes in fog and continued investment in satellite technology for landing planes rather than radar technology. The old facility could be turned into a number of various projects. In 2008 the airport underwent a multimillion-dollar resurfacing of its taxiways and aprons.
November 2014 airport plan
Present airport scenario
Originally the Civil Air Terminal until 1995, it has the International Air Transport Association (IATA) designation of BDA with the International Civil Aviation (ICAO) designation of TXKF.
Airport position, title and address. 32°22´00"N, 064°41´00"W. L. F. Wade International Airport, formerly Bermuda International Airport, 3 Cahow Way, St. George's Parish, Bermuda. On April 16, 2007 Bermuda International Airport became the L.F. Wade International Airport in honour of the late Bermuda politician L. F. Wade, then Progressive Labour Party Leader of the Opposition.
It is between the waterways of Ferry Reach and Castle Harbor. It is 3 miles south west of the Town of St. George and St. George's Parish, 10 miles east of the city of Hamilton, and 20 miles east of the Royal Naval Dockyard. From all other Parishes, it is via Long Bird Bridge and the Causeway. From here, with US pre-clearance from US Immigration and Customs, all departing passengers bound for the USA, once they arrive at any US airport, are exempted from the often huge Immigration lines so typical of those arriving directly in the USA from Europe. The low-lying Causeway, less than 20 feet above sea level, is a vital link connecting the mainland with the airport and from the latter east to St. George's and St. David's and west to the City of Hamilton and beyond, all the way to Sandys Parish. But when a hurricane strikes - of the intensity and ferocity Hurricane Fabian did on September 5, 2003 and numerous hurricanes have done since the 1850s - it shuts down the Causeway completely to all traffic for many days or weeks and the airport has to shut down completely. There is no alternative route to anywhere in Bermuda when the Causeway does not function. Instead of being a high-rise bridge impervious to the sea, as you see in the Bahamas, from Inverness to Ross-shire over the Beauly Firth and over the Cromarty Firth in Scotland - and similar well-known bridge roads in other places - it is a sea level road completely at the mercy of the sea. Much of it was destroyed on September 5, 2003 and had to be rebuilt and re-paved from end to end.
Bermuda is 568 miles east of North Carolina, 693 miles south east of New York (with a direct daily connection by air), 729 miles south of Halifax, Nova Scotia (with a seasonal once-weekly direct connection by air), 770 miles south east of Boston (with a direct daily connection by air), 788 miles north east of Nassau (no direct connection by air but via the USA), 1115 miles south east of Toronto (with a direct daily connection by air), 1290 miles north of Puerto Rico (no direct connection by air but via the USA), 2055 miles from Winnipeg (no direct connection by air but via Toronto) and 2996 miles from London, England (with a direct four times a week in summer and three times a week in winter connection by air).
It is NOT in the Caribbean. Bermuda has always been in British North America according to all official British records. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) refers to it rightly as in North America.
Bermuda Government-owned. See http://www.bermudaairport.aero/sitedocs/AIP%20BERMUDA%20incl%20AMDT%2001-2011.pdf
Rental automobiles allowed in Bermuda? No. Rental cars are not allowed from the airport or from anywhere else. Bermuda is one of the few places in the world that bans them. Visitors get to their destinations by taxi or pre-arranged mini-bus. (Ordinary buses are not equipped to carry passengers who have luggage). For further details, see Visitor Transportation in Bermuda.
Rental of light Bermuda-based aircraft? No. No rental of light aircraft is allowed.
Airlines serving Bermuda.
Air routes. Bermuda, as a British Overseas Territory, needs the approval of the United Kingdom for all new air routes but the latter rarely interferes as Bermuda can handle its own charter business. The Bermuda Government, not the British Government, both sets all local aviation laws and approves the charges to and from Bermuda of all the airlines and their changes in schedules. Bermuda has scheduled commercial flights to/from Atlanta; Baltimore; Boston MA Logan (BOS); Charlotte/Douglas, NC, high season; Chicago-O'Hare (ORD), high season; Fort Lauderdale, seasonal; Halifax; London Gatwick ( 6.75 to 7.75 hours); Miami International (MIA); Munich (high season: New York (JFK); NYC Newark (EWR); New York - La Guardia (LGA); Philadelphia, PA (PHL); Toronto; Washington DC (DCA) and Washington-Dulles. There are no commercial scheduled direct flights between Bermuda and any of the Caribbean islands. Going via the USA or Canada are the only ways.
Airport change of name, size, history and future funding. 536 acres. Its runway 12/30 is 9,713 feet in length and 150 feet wide. There are eleven taxiways, all 75 feet wide. The terminal apron has eight aircraft parking bays. It is the only airport in Bermuda. It falls under the Bermuda Civil Airports Act 1949, Bermuda Airport Regulations 1959 and Bermuda Airport Amendment Regulations 2002. It began in 1941 as a US$42 million project of and was financed 100% by US taxpayers from 1941. This is not known by 99% of our American, British, Canadian and other visitors. The runways and taxiways were constructed from scratch from former small islands in Castle Harbour by engineers contracted by the US Army Air Corps in 1941. They built Fort Bell, later known as Kindley Air Force Base of the United States Air Force, later yet the US Naval Air Station of the US Navy, as one of the military bases purpose-built for the US Military in Bermuda from 1941 to 1995. It included all of what is now the airport.
In January 1946 Kindley Field Airport, Bermuda, as it was first known then, was opened. It was established on that part of the US military base once reserved for and used by Britain's Royal Air Force (RAF).
The senior RAF officer in Bermuda during the War, Wing Commander Ware, was loaned to the civil government to oversee the conversion of the RAF's end of the military airfield into a Civil Air Terminal. Pre-fabricated buildings were relocated from Darrell's Island to assemble the first terminal. Ware remained with the local government after leaving the RAF, becoming the Director of Civil Aviation for many years.
Although no longer maintaining any detachment in Bermuda, the RAF continued to use Island as a trans-Atlantic staging after WW2 While most foreign military aircraft passing through the Island had used the US military end of the airfield, the RAF continued to disperse its aircraft at the former RAF end of the field. Large detachments of tactical aircraft, accompanied by larger refueling, transport, and maritime patrol aircraft, regularly staged at the island on transits between the UK and the garrison at Belize, etc.
From 1948, the Civil Air Terminal was the civilian part of the US military base.
From 1948 to 1995, US taxpayers continued to pay all the costs of the airport, runways and adjacent military base - and the separate one in Southampton Parish. For this airport alone, the sum spent by American taxpayers has been estimated at about US2 billion. For half a century, the US Government bore all the cost of runway maintenance, air traffic control, airport fire appliances and much more.
When the US Navy ran the airport until 1995 as part of the former US Naval Air Station at the old Civil Air Terminal, it absorbed the cost, with only notional accounts passed to airlines. With the Bermuda Government now the owner and operator, charges and landing fees increased hugely to Bermuda taxpayers and visitors and have continued that way. However, millions of dollars have been spent in improving and upgrading the airport to a far higher standard than when under US Navy control. More than 400 persons work at the airport.
Runway facts and 2013 improvements. LF Wade International Airport has a single active runway, known as 1-2-3-0. Runway 1-2, the portion where aircraft come in over Ferry Reach, has the same amount of asphalt surfacing as 100km of Bermuda’s twin-lane roads. There are also 100km of markings on the 150ft by 9,753ft runway, which is about to undergo changes under new international regulations. LF Wade’s runway was last resurfaced in 2003. The runway itself dates back to the 1940s, when it was laid down by US forces. Bermuda’s runways are still laid out in the ‘A’ shape characteristic of military facilities, but only the main strip is in use. That leaves the “finger” for fire department exercises, the parking of military aircraft — and future developments such as a proposed solar energy plant. A third strip is known as Taxi Way Bravo, which connects the runway to the “apron” in front of the airport buildings. In order to give adequate clearance for aircraft landing over Ferry Reach, their angle of approach is to be adjusted by two-tenths of a degree — enough for the “threshold” and other landing markings to be moved forward more than 500ft. The alterations, which are required of Bermuda under international standards, will have no effect on take-offs. April 2013 has been set as the final deadline for the project to start.
1 Passenger Terminal, 1 Cargo Terminal, 8 Aircraft Stands. Passengers disembark or embark down or up the aircraft ramp, then walk from or to the aircraft and terminal in all weather. When flights arrive or take off in the rain, passengers get wet. A passenger boarding bridge will be rain cover for embarking or disembarking passengers. Jetways may not be a practical proposition, either in cost or maintenance, especially in the salt-laden Bermuda air and closeness of airport to ocean. A mobile tunnel from terminal to plane steps was not successful in 1995-1996.
Passenger Facilities: Annual Capacity 842,245, 40 check-in desks, 8 gates, 3 baggage claim belts, short term parking spaces, 2 long term parking spaces, Bank, Bars, VIP Lounge, Duty Free Shop, Gift Shop, Tourist Help Desk, Taxi Service/Rank, First Aid.
Elevation 2m (6ft).
Fire Category 8.
Emergency Services are crash fire rescue service, airport security police, Bermuda Police.
Navigational Aids are VOR/DME, SSR.
Airfield Restrictions: None.
Noise Restrictions: None.
Runway 1: Heading 12/30, 2,960m (9,711ft), 80/F/A/W/U, ICAO Cat. 8, Aircraft size max: B777, ILS, Lighting: PAPI, Variable, High Intensity.
Lighting is variable or high intensity. The approach is abbreviated, variable, or high intensity with a precision approach path indicator (PAPI) system on both runways. All runway markings are in accordance with ICAO Annex 14.
Taxiway lighting is medium intensity edge lighting with internally lighted taxiway guidance signs. There is also an aircraft radio controlled lighting system or ARCAL which is available for use between 11 pm and 7 am daily.
Cargo Facilities: Capacity 7,000 tonnes (15,432,000lbs), Warehouse 8,500m² (91,493sq ft), Bonded Warehouse, Aircraft Maintenance, Heated Storage, Mortuary, Animal Quarantine, Fresh Meat Inspection, Livestock Handling, Health Officials, X-Ray Equipment, Security for Valuables, Dangerous Goods, Express/Courier Centre. The cargo terminal has 25,850 square feet.
No airport passenger boarding bridges or jetways (known in the United Kingdom as covered walkways). Possibly by 2013. Bermuda is one of the few international airports without any. A boarding bridge or jet way is the corridor that rolls out from the terminal at most airports to the front door of the aircraft. Nor are there any "at level" crossing points.
Airport administration. Operated directly by the Bermuda Government's Department of Airport Operations (DAO) which runs the airport from its upstairs offices at the airport. The DAO has a full-time staff of 56 employees. Overseen by the Director of Civil Aviation (DCA). The staff at the DCA include flight operations inspectors, an airworthiness surveyor and airworthiness inspectors. The DCA and his staff have several main functions. They are to regulate the airport; make sure the Department of Airport Operations operates to the right standards; run the Bermuda Aircraft Register (which includes about 150 aircraft, of which about a third are commercial, the others privately owned, including helicopters based aboard Bermuda-registered yachts); and ensure compliance with the Bermuda Government's air services policy which includes approving air fares, routes and services operated by the airlines serving Bermuda and charters. The airport is open for aircraft operations continuously. However, terminal services are only available from 5 am to midnight. Airport tower services and airport firefighting services are not available from 11 pm to 7 am. During this time the airport operates under non-tower operations and pilots of general aviation aircraft use the ARCAL to activate the airport runway and taxiway lights. The airport operations building has two floors. It is made of a mix of Bermuda stone (limestone), concrete blocks, concrete and wood. The upper floor has 65,300 square feet and the ground floor 172,500 square feet. The 2011-2012 fiscal year operating budget of the DAO is $20.5 million. This is down $332,000 when compared to the 2010/11 budget.
Via the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) agreement between Bermuda and the USA, the FAA provides air traffic control services for Atlantic air traffic passing through Bermuda air space. Bermuda provides tower air traffic control services for all flights landing and departing the Island, to a distance of eight miles. The FAA provides air traffic approach control services from its New York Center for all flights on behalf of Bermuda.
Bermuda and the FAA also agreed a number of cost sharing responsibilities in equipment, maintenance and operations. Now installed is an array of navigational aids and communications equipment to help the FAA fulfill its en route and approach control responsibilities. The agreement enables the USA and United Kingdom to fulfill their commitments to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), while the FAA benefits from enhanced management of air space around Bermuda. Data sent from Bermuda helps reduce time and distance separation restrictions and permits access to the most efficient cruising levels for aircraft.
Air Traffic Control Service is provided from an ATC Tower located on high ground approximately midpoint of the runway on its north side. Departure and Arrival control is provided from New York Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) at Ronkonkoma, Long Island New York, using radio transmitters and receivers installed in Bermuda and real time feeds of VOR and Radar signals from Bermuda.
Electronic navigation aids include a Category I Instrument Landing System serving runway 30, a VOR/DME serving both runways and a secondary surveillance radar, with a range of approximately 200 miles. Aeronautical information is available in the Bermuda Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP). It may be purchased from the Bermuda Department of Civil Aviation.
In 2011 the airport secured a new low cost carrier AirTran Airways, which would be providing services from Baltimore and Atlanta. The airport installed an advanced surveillance radar, in a cost-sharing agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), for $4.3 million. The airport was in the process of developing and redesigning a new plan for the Ferry Reach end of the runway. It requires the displacement of the runway threshold, thereby shortening the usable length of the runway by 590 feet. Navigational aid equipment known as Precision Approach Path Indicators (PAPIS), used by pilots to help guide aircraft to the touchdown point, will have to be repositioned. Runway lighting will have to be moved and line markings re-applied in order to meet the new regulatory requirement. To reduce costs and boost quality the Department of Airport Operations had contracted a group of IT specialists to take over the passenger processing system. This includes enhanced check-in functionality, flight information screens, WIFI, public announcements and the installation of an airport music system. This upgrade has been achieved at a 25 percent cost saving over the previous contract.
Not under airport jurisdiction and that no blame can be attached to the airport. But, like the airport, it is owned and managed by the Bermuda Government. This significant metallic waste dump spills out into Castle Harbour which borders the airport. It can be seen by flights arriving at the airport. It is not known publicly whether it affects aircraft navigation systems. But it is known that there are no similar airport dumps so close to other international airports elsewhere. Cars, motorcycles, tires and refrigerators are routinely dumped here, leeching the water, in amounts averaging 700 truckloads a week. But in Bermuda's tiny total land area of only 21 square miles or 56 square kilometers, there is nowhere else in Bermuda to site the dump.
A 2004 upgrade replaced the system installed by the US Navy prior to 1995.
There is a separate Government Parking Area, with three free reserved spaces for Government vehicles with license plates GP1 (the Premier) to GP20, only. For everyone else, 2 hours are shown as the maximum allowed in the short-term car park. The Department of Air Operations provides a few Handicapped Parking by Permit only spaces in the short-term maximum 2 hours Arrivals area, opposite the Airport Police Service station. There is a much larger Long-Term car park to the east of the Arrivals area, but currently, with no Disabled or Handicapped Parking. Motorists pay by credit card.
In June 2013 Bermuda’s new long-range radar at LF Wade International Airport went online. The improved radar extended coverage from 360 miles to 440 miles. The project, undertaken in tandem with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), marks the first significant upgrade of the navigation system since Bermuda’s formal agreement with the US 20 years ago. Under the deal the FAA installs equipment in Bermuda and the Island shares radar surveillance with flight controllers in New York for the FAA to manage aircraft coming in and out of the Island or passing through Bermuda airspace.
Airport security is contracted out by the Bermuda Government to a private sector security organization, which also provides the Bermuda Airport Security Police. Passenger security is handled by a different security company. It handles the screening of passengers' bags and luggage. Every bag going into an aircraft's hold will pass through an X-ray machine with Threat Image Projection to find images of dangerous objects. Electronic baggage monitoring helps to ensure extra bags are not put on the aircraft. It also helps locate bags of passengers who are detained by authorities from departing aircraft at the last minute. In addition to the Departure Tax per adult, all passengers pay a Bermuda Government Airport Security Fee, added on to the cost of an airline ticket. The fee is structured to recover a portion of the costs incurred to meet the security requirements stipulated by the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority.
2015. October 6. The US company due to take over support operations at Bermuda’s airport yesterday pledged to retain all 40 staff from outgoing contractor BAS Serco. Atlanta-based CI² beat BAS Serco, which has held the contract for 20 years and will take over at the end of March next year. The firm will run air traffic control, weather services, ground electronics and airport maintenance. CI² founder and president Andrella Kenner, who made a flying visit to Bermuda last week, said: “In our industry, risks are inherent in everything we do. It involves understanding, managing and critical thinking to ensure we meet objectives and maintain quality. To accomplish this, it takes a dedicated professional workforce which is what defines the CI² Aviation culture. I am confident that we already have that team in place in Bermuda.” The Royal Gazette revealed last week that BAS Serco had lost the contract it had held since 1995. Airport general manager Aaron Adderley paid tribute to BAS Serco’s work — but said the bid from CI² was “extremely competitive.” He added that CI² also held offshore air traffic control contacts in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands and had longstanding relationships with the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). And Mr Adderley said that CI²’s management of airspace bordering US national airspace was a “strong advantage” because Bermuda’s airspace also runs into US air territory and is at present managed by the FAA. He added that CI²’s US and international operations also offered extra training and career development opportunities for Bermudian employees. Ms Kenner said that her company would provide safe and efficient aviation and air navigation to passengers passing through the LF Wade International and to travelers travelling through Bermuda airspace. She added: “CI² Aviation’s commitment will be to the continued evolution of LF Wade International Airport as it moves into the next generation of airport operations and maintenance services. The company feels that professionals who have dedicated their careers as air traffic controllers, meteorologists, weather forecasters, ground electronic maintenance providers and airport maintenance services providers play an essential role in the airport’s past as well as its future.” The award-winning firm, which also has an office in Washington DC, is the only African-American owned company that provides air traffic control services to the Federal government. CI² also supplies air traffic control and weather observation to a total of 20 air traffic control towers in the US. And the company said its “most outstanding accomplishment” was more than 20 million aircraft operations and more than 18 years with no fatalities attributed to controller error.Until March 31, 2015. The Bermuda Airport and Bermuda Weather Service (BWS) is provided by BAS-Serco on contract with the Department of Air Operations. BWS operates as the island's National Meteorological Service and provides public and marine weather forecasts and warnings, in addition to the necessary data for the safe operation of aviation in Bermuda. BWS supplies weather information to local newspapers, television stations, cable TV and marine users such as visiting yachts and Harbour Radio staff who relay the forecasts on Marine VHF Radio, weather channel 2. There is also a weather dial-up phone-in service available 24 hours a day, providing public and marine forecasts, current observations, warnings and tropical weather system information. The BWS also operates a website, www.weather.bm, which is extremely popular with both local residents and visitors. Weather forecasters at BWS gather information from a variety of sources including numerical weather prediction models, imagery from the GOES Weather Satellite, weather balloons released twice a day and the local weather radar. A new S Band Doppler radar system was installed in 2003 which will facilitate improved tracking and prediction of hurricanes and storms up to 300 miles away from the island. The Island’s weather radar system is located on Cooper’s Island, St. David's. See website: www.weather.bm.
Bermuda follows those of the USA's FAA. See http://www.faa.gov/airports/runway_safety/news/publications/media/QuickReferenceGuideProof8.pdf
This has not always been in Bermudian hands. When the US Base was stationed in Bermuda, the Americans ran the tower. In 1995, the responsibility for the tower transferred to the Bermuda Government and Canadian controllers were brought in to train Bermudians. By 1996, Bermudians were sufficiently qualified to run the tower. Bermudians are sent to Civil Aviation Authority approved schools in the UK for about three months and then return to Bermuda for practical training. Residents and tourists may not know is that part of the airport transfer agreement left radar reading as New York's responsibility and any flight that wishes to leave Bermuda requires New York approval. Coverage for 200 miles means New York can easily handle flights once they leave Bermuda's airspace on their way to either the US or Europe. Bermuda's airspace is Class D because it only extends up 2,500 feet and within a five square mile radius from the geographical centre of the Airport. Class D is an FAA Classification depending on the aircraft that use the airspace and, all the aircraft that do use the airspace, have to conform to particular radio signals.
During the peak period there are two controllers on duty. One is the local controller, who is responsible for all arriving and departing aircraft into Bermuda and issues landing clearances, departure clearances and provides weather information. He or she will also provide weather information to flights flying over Bermuda. The other controller is the ground controller who is in charge of any vehicles on the runway, giving taxi instructions and route clearances to aircraft departing Bermuda. Emergency situations – such as a diverted airline, a hurricane or the situation involving a terrorist hijacking such as that which happened in September 2001 involving New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania – begin with a pager call out from New York to RCC Bermuda Radio which relays it to Air Traffic Control, the Fire Department, Department of Airport Operations and the Weather Service. The managers of all the departments will liaise and decide who responds to a call. The work day for an air traffic controller ends at 11 p.m. when they will move through yet another checklist before turning over responsibility to New York, which is able to activate the lights and emergency services. But, as days can never be relied upon to be typical, there is emergency housing near the Airport for air traffic controllers, who may be called upon to remain in the tower for up to two days in emergency situations such as hurricanes.
See Bermuda Government Boards
En route to Bermuda, your airline will give you an exceptionally detailed form compared to other countries. See http://www.tcd.gov.bm/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=256&&PageID=1442&mode=2&in_hi_userid=2&cached=true. It is similar to the one shown below.
You are required by the Bermuda Government to complete all the information shown:
Bermuda Government's Traveller Declaration - Front
Bermuda Government's Traveler Declaration - Reverse
In March 2007, legislation to help speed up arriving passenger lines, cut red tape, facilitate Customs checks and improve the detection of contraband was passed by Bermuda's House of Assembly. The Revenue Amendment Act 2007 obliged ships and aircraft to provide the Collector of Customs with electronic lists of passengers and crew prior to arrival in Bermuda. This assists local security officers to track high-risk individuals and cargo items. The information required includes sex, date of birth, passport number and country of issue. The bill also obliges ships and aircraft to provide electronic data in advance on cargo including the marks, numbers and contents of every item of goods on board. The Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 was also amended to require electronic manifests from the airlines for arriving and departing passengers. With the new border control system in place there is no requirement for Bermudians who have the stamp: "Holder is registered as Bermudian" in their passport and/or possess a "Fast Pass" card to have to complete an arrival card. The only document that a Bermudian will need to complete, when returning home, is a customs card. The credit card sized identification will only be issued to Bermudians and it will allow them to get through the arrivals hall faster through a special line where they will not be required to present their passport.
There are separate lines for incoming returning Bermudians, foreign residents who are work permit holders and all other visitors to go through Immigration and Customs. Business visitors attending meetings here also have a separate line. The first line requires all Bermudian passports to contain the Bermudian status stamp. There have been cases of people arriving and purporting to be Bermudian but who do not have Bermudian status – only a British or Bermuda passport stating they were born in Bermuda, which, unlike in all other countries, does not entitle them to citizenship.
Those without acceptable or adequate current documentation such as valid passports or on an FBI or Interpol stop list will be stopped and detained instead of being allowed to enter.
All arriving passengers must tell Immigration if they are visitors or salespeople or corporate representatives. If they are not Bermudian and not strictly on vacation, they must produce Bermuda Government Work Permits. Do not attempt to try to use your visit to see any client or conduct any business in Bermuda without having the required Work Permit if you are not Bermudian.
At Bermuda Immigration, in what appears to be a system unique to Bermuda (it is not in effect at any UK or USA or Canadian airports) arriving passengers receive a card from an Immigration officer to indicate what type of inspection of baggage will occur. It appears as if each Immigration officer makes a pre-determination on what kind of profile or category of passenger applies.
Customs. Illegal Imports. It applies to those who arrive by air or cruise ship or yacht. The full list of the hundreds of banned narcotics are in the Bermuda Government's Misuse of Drugs Act 1972 and Misuse of Drugs (Controlled Drugs) Order 2001 enacted on August 1, 2001. It is not an excuse if you fail to make yourself familiar with the contents of the full list. Penalties are very severe for those who ignore this warning. Locals, tourists and visitors are not given any breaks. The claims they invariably offer that they do not have the money to pay the fines are routinely ignored. They are remanded in custody or are put on bail with their transportation tickets impounded until they do. Also, there are many other repercussions.
From April 1, 2012 passengers arriving at LF Wade International Airport including Bermudians, other residents and visitors can use a “nothing to declare” aisle, if they legitimately have nothing to declare. This was arranged in conjunction with the Ministry of Transport’s Department of Airport Operations, in the Arrivals Area. It features a ‘red/green’ channel system, similar to what UK passengers have used for many years. It hastens their passage through the airport and emphasizes the obligation to properly declare goods. For all who have something to declare, a $100 collective Customs Duty exemption applies for returning residents, tourists $30, with 33% tax payable on all individual overseas purchases valued over the collective $100 exemption. (It was reported in The Royal Gazette of Thursday, September 13, 2001, on page 9, that Bermuda Customs and Immigration have a long-standing practice of giving preferential treatment to local legislators returning from abroad. Most don't pay any duties and are exempted from lining-up, unlike other passengers).
People who refuse to be searched at Customs on arrival at the airport or on a cruise ship or at any time near the airport or ports can be arrested.
Duty-free exemptions from Bermuda Customs Duty with effect from November 4, 2011 are tiny by USA, Canadian and British -UK standards.
Produce receipts from a retail store satisfactory to the Customs Department of actual purchase price of the items or be prepared for the Customs Department to assess items for your payment of duty at much higher Bermuda prices. This is applied vigorously. To avoid being arrested and having goods confiscated, do not try to import goods into Bermuda without paying the duty.
You'll also see a revenue-raising procedure you will never see at any other airport, a Customs Duty Payable counter at which to pay your exceedingly high rate of Customs Duty upfront if, as a Bermuda resident or visitor, you exceed your low $100 per person duty-free allowance.
Visitors may bring in, duty free for personal use only while they are in Bermuda, their clothes and articles like cameras, golf bags, 50 cigars or 200 cigarettes or 0.454 kilos (1 pound weight) tobacco; 1 liter of liquor or wine and a $30 gift allowance (compared to $100 in the USA) . If they bring in any more in gifts or their value, they can be charged a heavy rate of duty - over 25% of value - unlike in USA, Britain and Europe, where it does not matter whether your gifts are for yourself or a member of your family or associate or a complete stranger.
Declare a medically prescribed drug and show the doctor's or pharmacist's code on the prescription.
Behind the scenes, drug-sniffing dogs will check your baggage before it appears on carousels.
After passing through Bermuda Customs, passengers catch taxis or take pre-arranged minibus transportation to get to their hotels or other guest properties. (There are no rent-a-car services in Bermuda and no public transportation services for tourists with luggage). Hotels are not allowed to provide their own shuttle services between the airport and their hotels.
The airport has several. These are portable devices that under medical supervision deliver a small electrical shock to restore normal heart rhythm during sudden cardiac arrest, a condition that kills countless patients a year.
Arrivals hall. See "Moving Through the Years." An ornately designed mural by local artist Bruce Stuart at the history of transportation in Bermuda. Includes icons such as the Bermuda Clipper, Sea Venture, fast new ferry, policeman in birdcage and more.
Until March 31, 2015. A Bermudian joint venture company formed between Bermuda Aviation Services (BAS) Ltd and Serco Management Services Inc. It has provided air operations and facilities maintenances services at the airport, under contract to the Bermuda Government, since the US Naval Air Station closed in 1995. BAS-Serco employs approximately 50 staff providing air traffic control, ground electronics services, airport rescue and fire fighting, meteorological and aeronautical information services and airfield infrastructure maintenance.
More than 170 aircraft are on this register, owned by foreign nationals but not allowed to operate in Bermuda in transportation of residents or visitors. Most are new, sophisticated and technically advanced corporate jets, owned by very high net worth individuals (such as Bloomberg, Mayor of New York, who has a lavish private home in Bermuda and flies to it frequently).
Airport bars and restaurants are licensed to serve liquor under Bermuda's Liquor License Act 1974, Eastern District.
Since 2009 the main airport departure tax is $35 per person. The tax is payable by departing residents and visitors. How it is paid can vary. Some passengers may pay it directly to the airline who will then pay the Bermuda Government. Or it can be included in the overall cost of the ticket. Built into airline passenger tickets are other - hidden - taxes such as the Airport Security fee per passenger and a Passenger Facility Charge (PFC).
Electronic manifests now eliminate the requirement to collect landing cards on departure from Bermuda. Elimination of departure cards brought Bermuda in line with countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, who receive electronic manifests and do not require travelers to complete a departure card.Passengers arrive at Departures by taxi or mini-bus or, if staying with friends, by private car. Areas designate each commercial airline serving Bermuda. On the ground floor are check-in facilities. A fiber optic ring links the terminals with Bermuda Customs and Immigration computers. Television monitors and flight display units give airline logo and departing flights information.
Most departing passengers are tourists, bound for the USA. Others go on business or pleasure or to shop in the USA. Passengers check in at their airline counters. After checking in, those bound for Canada or United Kingdom are directed to their departure lounge on the ground floor. Unlike in the case of passengers bound for the USA, passengers bound for Toronto or Halifax or London cannot pre-clear their Customs and Immigration. Instead, Canadian and British authorities require their passengers to wait until they arrive in those countries before they go through their Immigration and Customs procedures. It can be a very lengthy and tiresome procedure, especially at London's Gatwick.
In contrast, USA-bound passengers, the great majority, have a major advantage. In Bermuda, before they leave, irrespective of nationality, they get US Customs and Immigration clearance - in Bermuda, not when they arrive in the USA. On arrival in the USA, they can pick up their baggage and go, having already gone through the Customs and Immigration procedures. This has been the case since 1974. They pay for it in Bermuda but it is a huge convenience.
Going through US Customs in Bermuda
Passengers who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear but those who attempt to enter the USA illegally will be stopped and arrested.
This is especially so since, a few years ago, Chinese and other nationals were allowed entry into Bermuda from the United Kingdom by local Immigration officials and afterwards tried to enter the USA from Bermuda using false Japanese passports. They had been told, erroneously, that the USA was an easy place to get to via Bermuda for illegal entrants. Alert Bermuda-based US Customs and Immigration officials detected and stopped them from entering the USA from Bermuda and the Bermuda Government imprisoned them prior to deportation.
Since 2009, while waiting to speak to a US customs and immigration officer, visitors and residents en route to the USA can learn more about the longstanding relationship between the two countries from the newly-installed US-Bermuda Friendship Wall. The three-panel wall features key historical events and information about the longstanding US-Bermuda relationship that many visitors may not know. The permanent exhibit was unveiled in 2009 in celebration of Bermuda 400th anniversary by Airport general manager Aaron Adderley, US Consul General Gregory Slayton and Stephen Greenberg, Port Director for US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Departure area photos by author Keith Archibald Forbes.
The British Government's Department for Transport's Access to air travel for disabled people: code of practice is not followed in Bermuda by the Bermuda Government. But a disabled passenger transporter that cost local taxpayers $94,000 was installed in August 2003. It was funded by the Passenger Facility Charge fee enacted that year of $4 per ticket. The diesel-powered unit elevates 20 feet off the ground to transport the disabled from terminal gates to the cabin of the aircraft or in reverse. It is fully enclosed, air-conditioned and can board as many as six wheel-chair bound passengers at one time. This was welcomed by the Bermuda Physically Handicapped Association as a service for locals and visitors. To use the system, all disabled arriving or departing passengers must give prior notice to their airlines and should note that the system will not work at night without such prior requests.
It bounces radio waves off objects with a high powered antenna. It indicates the comparative velocity of rain drops and other precipitation in the atmosphere. It enables a meteorologist to detect potentially hazardous features such as squall lines and outbursts.
On the northern side of the airport near Ferry Reach, this is specifically for owners or operators of executive smaller aircraft or corporate jets visiting Bermuda and any guests they bring. It has its own lounge, Bermuda Immigration and Customs and other services. A former US Air Force/US Naval Air Station building on Southside was converted into a private jet passenger terminal. The building has a 275,000 square-foot apron where private jets can be parked in addition to parking for 13 cars.
The responsibility of the Ministry is to manage and regulate transportation in Bermuda, including the airport, weather services, buses and ferries.
For outgoing passengers. The Bermuda Government rents out duty-free shops in the Departures areas. Once USA passengers pass through the US Customs Pre Clearance Service and enter the USA Departures lounge, they cannot purchase goods which will attract US Import duties because of strict US Customs regulations. If an airport store for departing passengers advertises duty-free liquor prices while there is a big saving on duty-free liquor compared to most retail stores in Bermuda, Canada and United Kingdom prices, passengers bound for New England, Pennsylvania and other US states residents should note that retail prices in their states for liquor may be about the same as Bermuda Duty Free prices. And passengers bound for the UK should note that if they go beyond Gatwick by air they are hugely restricted in what they can take in their hand luggage.
For further details on the following for tourists and business visitors, see Getting Around in Bermuda.
The best way to get to/from hotels and other places to stay for guests with luggage is via taxi or a shuttle van/mini bus service. Some hotels, guest houses and efficiency units will pre-arrange this for their guests and the latter should always ask about this at the time of booking to ensure this will be done by prior arrangement.
Once you’ve cleared Bermuda Immigration, collected your luggage and passed through Bermuda customs, you’ll exit the airport terminal and enter the ground transportation area for taxi or minibus to your destination. All taxis are metered with rates set by the Bermuda government (see under "Taxis" in Bermuda Transportation for Visitors) but taxi fares are not always purely for the journey, can also be based on number of passengers if more than 2, and are payable in US or Bermuda dollars. Fares are the same for non-disabled and disabled (handicapped in USA). There are now 650 taxis. (Disabled persons in a wheelchair should always ask in advance of their arrival for a wheelchair-equipped taxi, of which there are quite a few. But they should note that when taxis are equipped to take a wheelchair, it may be for a manual wheelchair only, not an electric wheelchair).
At the airport, regular public transportation buses service the Departure area, not Arrivals area. They are excellent in terms of weekday frequency compared to many other places. But they were built for the casual sightseer from overseas with no luggage and local commuters. They are not for airport incoming or outgoing passengers, not equipped to take luggage, without special marked seating for disabled passengers who do not need wheelchairs but use a cane or crutch as they are too unsteady on their feet to stand - and are not equipped to hoist wheelchairs.
September 28, 2016.
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