165+ web files about Bermuda, regularly updated as a Gazetteer, focusing on this internally self-governing British Overseas Territory 900 miles north of the Caribbean, 600 miles east of North Carolina, USA. Accommodation options, aircraft & shipping registers, airlines, airport, America's Cup 2017,artists &culture & performing arts, banks, beaches, Bermuda Dollar, Bermuda Government, Bermuda-incorporated international and local businesses and companies including insurers and reinsurers, Bermudians, books and publications, bridges and causeway, charities, churches, citizenship by Status, City of Hamilton, commerce, communities, credit cards, cruise ships, cuisine, currency, disability accessibility, Devonshire Parish, districts, Dockyard, economy, education, employers, employment, environment, executorships, fauna, ferries, flora, former military bases, forts, gardens, geography, getting around, golf, government, guest houses, history, historic homes, Hamilton, House of Assembly, housing, hotels, immigration, import duties, internet access, islands, laws, legal system and legislators, location, main roads, marriages, media, members of parliament, money, motor vehicles, municipalities, music, nearest mainland, newcomers, newspaper, organizations, parks, Paget Parish, Pembroke Parish, residents, pensions, political parties, postage stamps, public holidays, public transportation, railway trail, real estate, religions, Royal Naval Dockyard, Sandys Parish, Smith's Parish, Somerset Village, Southampton Parish, St. David's Island, St George's Parish, senior citizens, Somerset, Spanish Point, Spittal Pond, sports, taxes, telecommunications, time zone, traditions, tourism, Town of St. George, Tucker's Town, utilities, water sports, Warwick Parish, weather, wildlife, work permits.
By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online
Planned new airport, to be Canadian built, construction of which began in April 2017.
Approaching Bermuda by air
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.
Responsible for the regulation and safety oversight of aviation in Bermuda and all aircraft on the Bermuda Aircraft Registry. Previously known as the Bermuda Department of Civil Aviation, which was established in 1931, the new BCAA became a newly formed Authority on October 1st, 2016. Bermuda is a United Kingdom Overseas Territory and though it is regulated by the UK Department for Transport, the safety oversight system is separate from that of the UK. The regulatory requirements are established as the Overseas Territories Aviation Requirements (OTARs), which are in full compliance with the standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Bermuda’s Aircraft Registry is extensive and ranks 10th in size when compared to the 191 signatory States to the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The current Registry includes a mix of both private aircraft and commercial aircraft operated under Article 83 bis Agreements.
2017. October 9. The loudest phase of the construction for the airport redevelopment project has been completed ahead of schedule. All 719 piles have been driven beneath the surface to create the foundation for the new terminal at the L.F. Wade International Airport, according to a press release from Skyport. Pile driving — the process of hammering steel piles into the ground — began on May 28 and work took place seven days a week. Frank Ross, executive director of infrastructure at Aecon Construction, stated: “The pile driving was the noisiest phase of the project and we would like to thank our stakeholders and neighbors for being patience for the past couple of months. We are pleased to have completed it months ahead of schedule. Also, so far, 34 per cent of the pile caps have been completed and we are well on our way to finishing the project on time.” The work was scheduled between 7am and 10pm every Monday through Saturday, and between 7am and 6pm on Sundays. It finished on September 22, four months ahead of the schedule. Work was carried out by Aecon Foundations and Correia Construction and involved 28 Bermudians. The construction of the new airport terminal is expected to take 40 months and will be finished in 2020.
2017. September 27. LF Wade International Airport was evacuated this afternoon after a fire alarm was activated. A Skyport Airport Duty Officer said the alarm went off at 3.35pm and the emergency services were called. The duty officer added: “The building was immediately evacuated by staff as the matter was being investigated. “Bermuda Fire and Rescue Services arrived shortly afterwards to assess the situation. Skyport Security officers and BFRS personal conducted a thorough investigation of the affected area and a security sweep of the terminal. Staff were allowed to re-enter the building at 4.25pm. The cause of the alarm is being investigated.” There was no impact on flights.
2017. September 23. The airport mail-processing center and HM Customs center will move into a rented building in Pembroke at a cost of $360,000 per year. Lovitta Foggo, Minister of Government Reform, told the House of Assembly that the move was forced by the airport redevelopment contract, which stipulated that the Post Office and Customs would have to move by the end of this month or pay rent to developers Aecon. Ms Foggo told MPs: “As a result of the agreement entered into by the former government, development costs must now be expended on leasehold improvements that are required at the new privately-owned Mill Creek facility to accommodate the segregation of the two agencies. Such segregation is in accordance with the requirements of the standard operating procedures for the Department of Customs to carry out their duties in a secure environment.” She said that it was unlikely that a move would be completed by September 30 but that every effort would be made to work with the airport developers to avoid penalty payments. Ms Foggo added that “no more than a 30-day extension will be requested.” A supplementary estimate to the Budget tabled last week set aside $290,000 to fund the relocation of the Post Office mail office from the airport. Ms Foggo said that several sites, including government buildings, were considered in a bid to cut costs but none were suitable. She added: “This is a cost that should technically be represented as a line item when tallying the cost of the development of the new airport.” Ms Foggo said the move “had the potential to jeopardize the reputation of Bermuda’s postal service’s international standing and impact revenue collection. The future requirement of having to move airmail to a non-airport facility before sorting and distribution will increase receipt time and decrease efficiency, thereby negatively impacting service standards. Further, the move significantly affects the Department of Customs and the border control work that they are required to manage.” The deal with Aecon means that if the two agencies are not out of their airport home by the start of next month, Government will have to pay rent at market value. If they are still on site after the end of the year, “the authority will pay Project Co $600,000 as a single liquidated sum as full compensation and the Bermuda Post Office will be permitted to remain in its current premises for the term without further payment of rent or occupancy cost, subject to the Bermuda Post Office entering into a sublease with Project Co.” During a question-and-answer session in the House, Opposition leader Patricia Gordon-Pamplin asked whether it would be less expensive to stay at the airport to at least eliminate the costs associated with moving. Ms Foggo responded that it would not.
2017. September 8. Bermuda Skyport will support, as needed, flights to the British Virgin Islands to send support in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, according to a statement issued this afternoon. The effort is in conjunction with the Royal Air force. Additionally, Skyport will waive all normal airport fees for landing, parking and overnight stays for these aircraft. Aaron Adderley, president of Bermuda Skyport, said the organisation “would like to do what we can to help our sister islands to our south in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma”. “It’s the least we can do, and I wish we could do more,” Mr Adderley added. LF Wade International Airport will be prepared to possibly receive or consider three separate types of aircraft from the RAF if the intended destination airports in the BVI are unable to be reached or provide jet fuel service in the days following the hurricanes. The RAF aircraft that could be seen parked at the airport as they transit to and from the UK could be the A332 Voyager, the C-17 Globemaster and the A400 Atlas. All three aircraft can carry extensive cargo to include needed supplies or support personnel to the islands receiving damage from the two active hurricanes to the south of Bermuda. In related support, Skyport is working with British Airways to have one or two aircraft normally based for operations at Miami International Airport to be flown to Bermuda for overnight parking and servicing. With only aircrew on-board, the flights will position in Bermuda to reduce the risk of possible damage caused by Hurricane Irma. The news came after American Airlines flights were today cancelled due to Hurricane Irma, which is now moving through the eastern Caribbean to threaten the Florida peninsula. AA 1325, which would have left LF Wade International Airport for Miami at 9am today, did not fly, along with AA 308, this afternoon’s service from Miami. Also called off was AA 224 from Philadelphia, which had been scheduled to arrive in Bermuda at 2.10pm — and AA 225, the return flight. Airlines are reportedly scrambling to get passengers and aircraft out of the storm’s path, with a wave of weekend cancellations expected as Irma continues.
2017. September 1. LF Wade International Airport was evacuated yesterday afternoon after a fire alarm went off. Staff and passengers were allowed back into the building after the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service did a security sweep and gave the all clear. A Skyport airport duty officer said: “At 3.01pm, the Life Safety System audible alarm was activated in the airport and emergency services were called. The building was immediately evacuated by staff and passengers as the matter was being investigated. Bermuda Fire and Rescue Services arrived on the scene at 3:16pm to assess the situation. After a thorough investigation of the affected area and a security sweep, the all clear was given at 3.35pm when staff and passengers were allowed to re-enter the building." The duty officer said that the cause was being investigated. There was no impact on flights.
2017. August 31. Premier David Burt has renewed the Progressive Labour Party’s election pledge to review the airport redevelopment contract. The Premier told The Royal Gazette that news of the possible sale of Aecon would also be considered as part of the review, although he did not specify if the review had begun or when it was likely to finish. However, Steve Nackan, president of Aecon Concessions, maintained it was business as usual for the airport project and said the construction of the new terminal at LF Wade International Airport would not be affected by any potential transaction. He said: “I would first reiterate that any transaction would be intended to create shareholder value and enhance Aecon’s capabilities and growth potential. Second, for all our operations, including our wholly owned subsidiary Bermuda Skyport Corporation Ltd, and any business units involved in construction, it is business as usual and we remain focused on doing great work for our customers. The construction of the airport is contracted to the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a Crown corporation of the Government of Canada; this is not affected by any potential transaction.” News broke last week that the Canadian construction company building Bermuda’s new airport terminal was looking at putting itself up for sale. Aecon Group confirmed that it had hired advisers from Toronto-Dominion Bank and Bank of Montreal to explore a potential sale of the company. The firm is the prime contractor on the airport project under a public-private partnership involving the Bermuda Government and the Canadian Commercial Corporation. But in a statement Mr Burt described the project agreement as “a decision to privatize” the airport. Mr Burt said: “The former Government made the decision to privatize the LF Wade International Airport to Canadian company Aecon. The new Government will keep the pledge we made in our election platform to review this privatization contract, and news of the possible sale of Aecon will be considered.” Walter Roban, the Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs, toured the LF Wade International Airport redevelopment project last week. The Deputy Premier met the Bermuda Airport Authority board and staff as he checked on the progress of the project. Work on the new terminal’s foundation infrastructure is ongoing with 70 per cent of the 725 steel piles having been driven hundreds of feet into the ground. Installation of the above ground terminal infrastructure will start later this year, while a new aircraft taxiway is also being constructed as part of the redevelopment.
2017. August 28. A temporary floating dock installed near the airport will be removed over the next few days. The dock, located on Kindley Field Road, was installed by the ACBDA in May with the condition that it come out of the water following the end of the sailing event. Mike Winfield, CEO of ACBDA, said that the dock helped facilitate the large number of visitors attending the event, including private jet passengers staying aboard private yachts. “While the ACBDA has had discussions with various entities that may take future ownership of the dock and its maintenance on an ongoing basis, there has been no definitive agreement and as a result, we have no option but to remove the dock at this time,” he said. Mr Winfield said that the organisation remained hopeful that the dock may be replaced at a later date “for the benefit of Bermuda’s local boaters and visitors”. The concrete piles supporting the dock will remain in place after it is removed, and will be marked with reflective material for safety. The dock itself will be stored. The removal is expected to take place before the end of the month.
2017. August 25. Walter Roban, the Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs, toured the L.F. Wade International Airport redevelopment project yesterday. The Deputy Premier met the Bermuda Airport Authority board and staff as he checked on the progress of the project. At present, the new terminal’s foundation infrastructure is being constructed and 725 steel piles are being driven hundreds of feet into the ground. The pile drive is just over 70 per cent complete and installation of the above ground terminal infrastructure will start later this year. A new aircraft taxiway is also being constructed as part of the project.
2017. July 27. Concrete has been poured for the first new taxiway at LF Wade International Airport in 15 years. It comes after months of excavation to prepare the base of Bermuda’s new passenger terminal. “The concrete pour signifies the start of the next phase of the airport development,” Frank Ross, Aecon’s executive director for infrastructure, stated. "Our team has worked diligently over the past few months to prepare the surface for the concrete and are working through the night to create this new taxiway. We are excited to be on schedule and look forward to delivering a world-class airport for Bermuda.” The concrete for Taxiway W, which will replace the existing Taxiway S, was poured on Tuesday evening and construction crews will pour about 80 cubic metres per night until the project is completed. A statement added that the work will be done at night to minimise impact to aircraft arrivals and departures. Work began on the new taxiway on June 7 and is expected to be completed mid-September. The new taxiway must be ready for operation before Taxiway S can permanently close. The redevelopment of LF Wade International Airport is being implemented under a government-to-government framework agreement between the governments of Canada and Bermuda. The construction phase of the Airport Redevelopment Project is expected to take 40 months and to be completed in the summer of 2020. More updates can be found on the Bermuda Government portal at www.gov.bm and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BermudaSkyport.
2017. June 29. Another phase of the new airport began this week with construction workers taking on the task of pile driving. Because the noise levels are lower than expected, the work will now also take place on Sundays, according to a press release. "The process involves hammering steel piles into the ground at a depth of 115 feet within the footprint of the new terminal and passenger bridges and is essential for supporting the structure of the terminal,” said a statement from Skyport, who are responsible for construction. “The work has been taking place between the hours of 7am and 10pm every Monday through Saturday. But due to lower than anticipated noise levels and in an effort to shorten the overall steel piling time, piling will now occur on Sundays between 7am and 6pm. This schedule is designed to ensure that the piling work is completed in as short of a time as possible whilst still minimizing the impact on area residents and businesses. To date, 23 per cent of the steel piles have been driven. The steel piles will be installed with two rigs, both using the hammer method. There will be a significant noise and vibration impact on the surrounding area, with this expected to be the loudest phase of construction. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused and thank the public for their patience as we build this important project.” For further information, call Skyport on 293-2470 or e-mail info@Skyport.bm. To learn more about the new terminal, visit www.skyport.bm.
2017. June 28. Bermuda’s largest supplier of concrete was yesterday celebrating after winning one of its biggest ever contracts for work on the new airport. And Bill Morrison, CEO of SAL Trading, said the news would lead to extra jobs at the firm — while Canadian developer Aecon said a total of 64 jobs would be created as a result of 12 new contracts just awarded. .Mr Morrison added: “We are looking to get some extra staff — we’re doing the sums now." Once we finish negotiations, we will be in a better position to answer questions about numbers." SAL, a major supplier of construction supplies, was responsible for the island’s biggest one-day concrete pour in 2011 at the redevelopment of the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. The company used 110 loads to pour 14,850 cubic feet of concrete for the foundations of the new hospital building. Mr Morrison said: “This is not as big as the hospital in terms of concrete, but it’s a very large contract." It's one of the largest contracts we have ever had — and after seven years of recession, it’s very welcome." The Devonshire-based firm took part in an open tendering process for the contract, which will involve concrete work across the redevelopment site. Other major contracts awarded by Aecon went to D&J Construction, which will work on formwork, reinforcing steel placement, concrete placing and taxi work, while Horsfield Landscaping and Design will install security fencing..Correia Construction will work with Benson Steel, a Canadian specialist in structural steel, as a subcontractor working on unloading, trucking and steel erection. Kevin Horsfield, of Horsfield Landscaping and Design, said some of the fencing his firm would install would be temporary, while other sections would be permanent. He added that, while the company’s existing staff of ten could handle the work, other contracts meant more employees would need to be hired. Mr Horsfield said: “It’s a very welcome contract and I can see an increase in business over the past year." I would certainly say the economy has improved — economically, the island is on a bit of a rebound." He added: “We will be able to handle the airport work in-house at the moment, but there is other work out there, not just the airport and we are interested in hiring." Finding suitable applicants is what I’m looking at and we’re going through the process at the moment." A further eight smaller contracts were also announced by Aecon. Air-Pro will work on air conditioning, Eminence Contractors will provide flooring, Bermuda Security Services will act as locksmith and electrical service work will go to P&M Electric. In addition, Kaissa has won a roofing contract, Bermuda Elevators will install elevators, while scaffolding will be provided by Leggo Ltd and Greymane will install drywalls. Frank Ross, executive director of infrastructure for Aecon, said: “We are delighted to announce that we will be working with these local companies in the construction of Bermuda’s new airport terminal." These contracts will create 64 new jobs." He added the island companies’ “local knowledge and connections are a tremendous asset to the project and we look forward to working with them”.
2017. June 3. Four local firms have been taken on by the Aecon Group for the airport redevelopment project. OBM International will be responsible for the architecture and landscape architecture of the project, while Brunel has been awarded contracts for structural and civil engineering. On-site Engineering will be tasked with the mechanical engineering of the project and IAL will be responsible for electrical engineering. The construction phase of the project is expected to last until the first quarter of 2020. The Bermudian firms will be working with Aecon to review and provide input into the design development of the new passenger terminal. They will also oversee various inspections and testing activities during construction. “Local expertise is invaluable in every project and we’re delighted to be working with these Bermudian firms,” Frank Ross, Aecon’s executive director of infrastructure, said. “Having worked with them during the design phase, we know the local talent that they can bring to the table. We’re happy to have them as partners as we begin the construction phase of the project.” Under the contracts announced yesterday, Brunel, a consulting engineering firm, will provide input into all aspects of the design relating to wind loading and other environmental impacts. Brunel will prepare inspection reports and manage photographic records of inspections. IAL, an electrical engineering consultancy, will be co-ordinating and reviewing with the Bermuda Fire & Rescue Service, the design of the fire alarm system for the new airport terminal, and will be responsible for finalizing the design of grounding and lighting systems. Architectural and landscape design firm OBMI will be the principal liaison in Bermuda between the design and construction teams and ensure all conditions of the planning permissions are adhered to. Finally, Onsite Engineering, a specialist mechanical engineering firm, together with HH Angus will be responsible for providing the design of the groundwater heat-rejection system.
2017. May 1. Motorists in St George’s are warned of traffic delays and noise as Aecon begins preparing for the construction of a new airport terminal. Workers will unload materials at Penno’s Wharf and truck them to the airport site, from tomorrow until Sunday, according to a press release. Fifteen trucks will operate over a 15-hour period, between 7am and 10pm, throughout the six days. A statement from Aecon said: “We expect this to affect traffic flow and we encourage people travelling to and from St George’s to allow extra time for travel. This may also impact noise levels. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused.” For further information, call Skyport on 293-2470.
2017. April 20. Materials destined for the new airport project are set to be unloaded at Penno’s Wharf this weekend and next week in advance of groundbreaking. According to an Aecon spokeswoman, unloading work is set to begin on Saturday and continue until Wednesday, with 15 trucks moving materials from 7am to 10pm. “We expect this to affect traffic flow and we encourage people travelling to and from St George’s to allow extra time for travel,” the spokeswoman said. “This may also impact noise levels. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused.”
2017. April 20. Construction starts next week at the site of the new terminal for LF Wade International Airport, while the long awaited St George’s resort will also break ground next month. Michael Dunkley, the Premier, told The Royal Gazette that a starting date for the airport work would be announced “very shortly”. The updates came as he prepared to head back from addressing the World Economic Forum in Miami. Mr Dunkley said the event was “an opportunity to promote Bermuda, sell Bermuda and build relationships”. Meetings included a chat with Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation, which has “a small footprint in Bermuda that we are keen to enlarge” — and with Mark Lunt, principal of real estate and hospitality at Ernst and Young. Mr Dunkley’s address to a panel on “cultivating an ecosystem of entrepreneurship” focused on the island’s financial services sector and the benefits of the imminent America’s Cup. Last year, the six teams associated with the event spent more than $22 million in the island, and Mr Dunkley said the Cup had brought a “local business boom”. Some 300 participants have relocated to the island. Wedco estimated that about 500 jobs had been created in the extensive restorations at Dockyard, he said. While 50 per cent of America’s Cup contracts went to “small or medium-sized businesses”, assisted by short-term loans from the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation.
2017. April 13. By Steve Nackan, president of Aecon Concessions, builder of the new airport approved by the Bermuda Government. "After 2½ years of hard work, by Aecon, Canadian Commercial Corporation, the Bermuda Government and by the team that now forms the new airport company, Skyport, we are looking forward to building Bermuda’s new airport terminal. This project is an opportunity not only to replace an outdated yet crucial piece of infrastructure, but also for many Bermudians and Bermudian businesses. Contracts are now beginning to be awarded, jobs have already been created and many additional jobs are being advertised as the project moves forward. Last month, we were pleased to launch the new special-purpose company responsible for LF Wade International Airport’s operations, maintenance and commercial functions: Bermuda Skyport Corporation Ltd. Skyport is a Bermudian company, comprising primarily of former Department of Airport Operations staff, who will be bringing the Bermuda air travel experience into a new era. As part of this mission, Skyport is looking to significantly expand its employee numbers. At Aecon, we have a commitment to not only build well but to build conscientiously. We are committed to putting safety and environmental and social sustainability at the heart of all we do — to make a positive impact on Bermuda. We are invested not just in the island’s infrastructure, but also in Bermuda’s people and its future. There will be a range of opportunities for Bermudians who want to help to better Bermuda’s air travel experience, with jobs available in fields such as construction — from materials and equipment supply — to architecture and engineering, administration, technical services support, logistics, stevedoring and shipping. As part of our commitment, to ensure that qualified and available Bermudians are able to work on the airport project, we have worked closely with the Government of Bermuda’s Department of Workforce Development and the Construction Association of Bermuda. The DWD has been identifying the labour capacity available in Bermuda and is launching a talent pool drive to assist subcontractors for the project in finding and hiring qualified Bermudians in their fields. Those who are interested in working for an airport subcontractor should collect an application form, available from the DWD at the old Magistrates’ Building, 23 Parliament Street, Hamilton, download one from www.dwd.bm or call 297-7714 for information. Competed applications need to be submitted to the DWD with résumés and certified, colour copies of qualifications or certifications. The DWD will help any Bermudians who do not have a résumé in creating one. The DWD is also putting together training programmes that will benefit Bermudian employees and employers alike. To ensure that the new airport meets industry standards, Aecon and the DWD will be using National Centre for Construction Education and Research for construction standards. As the general contractor for the Airport Redevelopment Project, Aecon Construction is looking for businesses wanting to work on the project as subcontractors. Interested businesses must pre-qualify to be considered for contracts. This can be done by registering at www.subconprequal.aecon.com. The CAOB has offered to assist its members in completing their pre-qualification documents, if they have any difficulty. They can be contacted by calling 292-0633. Aecon will also be hiring directly for particular positions, and these can be found by checking The Royal Gazette, the DWD or the Bermuda Job Board (www.bermudajobboard.bm). To find out more, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. While the construction of the new airport gets under way, Skyport is also looking to hire new team members. Those interested in working for Skyport should submit a résumé and cover letter to email@example.com for airport-related jobs. We are just weeks away from breaking ground at Stone Crusher Corner and can’t wait to get started. We look forward to building a lasting relationship between Aecon and Bermuda."
2017. March 22. The stewardship of Bermuda’s airport has officially switched hands from the Department of Airport Operations to Bermuda Skyport Corporation Limited. Aaron Adderley, the former general manager of the DAO, who now presides over the new entity, hailed its launch as the start of “a new era”. Like many other former DAO staff, Mr Adderley has kept a similar role but switched over to the company that will oversee both the running of LF Wade International Airport, and the 40-month project to replace its present terminal. Construction is expected to start next month. With the new facility to be completed in 2020, the existing building must now be “spruced up” for its remaining 3½ years in service. “In the days and weeks ahead, we’ll be finalizing a plan, parts of which have already been enacted, to address some of the facility deficiencies,” Mr Adderley said. Speaking at an announcement yesterday in the departures area of the present terminal, he said Skyport would “manage and co-ordinate the overall delivery of the airport redevelopment project for a 30-year concession term”. At the close of that term, in 2047, “Skyport’s lease with the Government will end, and the day-to-day operation of the airport and its facilities will revert to the Government of Bermuda”. Mr Adderley praised the work of DAO staff, 80 per cent of whom have gone over to Skyport, through the rocky progress of the agreement between the Bermuda Government, anxious to avoid further public debt, and the Canadian Commercial Corporation. Former DAO staff comprise 28 out of the 32 positions in Skyport presently held by Bermudians. But Mr Adderley said he expected “30 new jobs at Skyport, for which we have already begun to recruit on-island”. Although it is a Bermuda company, Skyport is owned by CCC’s chosen contractor, Aecon Concessions, a specialist in public-private partnerships that is to develop and finance the project. Its president, Steve Nackan, called the company “a fusion — a partnership, if you will — of local talent and the international infrastructure expertise of Aecon”, and presented Aecon’s corporate social responsibility programme. “Through Skyport, we will support community outreach, education, health and sports, and important environmental sustainability initiatives,” Mr Nackan said, citing the “significant footprint that the airport has in the community”. That programme began with a donation of $5,000 to Family Centre. Skyport will also recruit for positions at the Bermuda Airport Authority, the quango with oversight over Wade International’s administration and the redevelopment project. Job inquiries may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, a spokeswoman said.
2017. March 17. Ground will break next month on the LF Wade International Airport redevelopment project, as the Aecon Group has announced a “commercial and financial close”. Finance minister Bob Richards and tourism minister Senator Michael Fahy appeared yesterday afternoon with officials from Aecon and Canadian Commercial Corporation to commemorate close on the 2½ year negotiations. With the deal now officially agreed, the announcement marked a significant milestone, Mr Richards said. “I’m happy to say that construction of our much needed, state of the art airport can commence.” Yesterday’s announcement will also not result in any further details being released to the public, the minister added, in reference to the calls from the project’s opponents for all materials to be made public. “What we have revealed so far is virtually everything, except for the financial model, which is not going to be revealed in any circumstance.” The financial model was demanded by the Progressive Labour Party, but the minister said repeatedly that such details were not the government’s to divulge. That rationale was backed last month by the independent Blue Ribbon Panel tasked with reviewing the deal. Mr Richards hailed it as “one of the most important capital projects ever undertaken in our island” — calling yesterday’s announcement “an exciting and historic occasion”. With the financial close, the Bermuda Airport Authority quango is now in place, under Mr Fahy’s administration. As well as the terminal bringing benefits to passengers, Mr Fahy said: “There are hundreds of workers at our current facility, and we can finally promise them a terminal building that will provide them the space and accommodation that they deserve.” Construction of the new terminal at Stone Crusher Corner is to take 40 months, as previously stated. Aecon’s statement continues: “The new works are being constructed on the airport property well removed from the existing terminal, allowing for uninterrupted operations of the existing terminal.” It promises a “larger, state-of-the-art, accessible terminal that can resist hurricane-force winds”. The release said: “It will improve passenger flow, introduce new and renovated facilities, and provide additional retail offerings to better meet the needs of airport users, today and in the future. Key features of the project in addition to the new terminal include providing six new covered boarding bridges, new apron space for parking and refueling or loading/unloading aircraft; modifications to taxiways to improve aircraft traffic flow; as well as energy and water efficiency features.” The release stated that, on financial close, Bermuda Skyport Corporation Limited, a special purpose company formed and initially wholly-owned by Aecon Concessions, will take over the airport’s operations, maintenance and commercial functions, and manage and coordinate the overall delivery of the redevelopment project over a 30-year concession term. Financing for the project has been arranged by Aecon, and includes a $285 million fixed coupon US private placement, amortized over a 25-year term, and approximately $70 million of shareholder equity to be contributed in the latter part of construction. The construction activities of the Bermuda Airport Project will be recorded in Aecon’s Infrastructure segment, while the financing, operations, maintenance and concession activities will be recorded in Aecon’s Concessions segment. Mr Richards is quoted on the Aecon statement as saying: “Bermuda is benefiting from a series of strategic initiatives to spur growth and prosperity. “This transaction is one of them, but a very significant one that brings jobs for Bermudians and the knowledge that they are participating in one of the largest, and most important, infrastructure projects of our generation. This development helps our community to continue along a path of economic growth and prosperity. The benefits of this significant infrastructure project will be appreciated by Bermudians and visitors for many years to come. We look forward to a long, and mutually beneficial, relationship with our first-class partners.” John Beck, president and CEO of Aecon Group Inc, stated: “Through Aecon’s select participation in international projects such as the Bermuda Airport redevelopment project, we continue our long history of developing and building airports globally and add to our successful roster of experience as concessionaire. The combination of the Government-to-Government and P3 procurement models is a unique offering brought to the table by CCC and Aecon to facilitate the delivery of a tailor made solution for Bermuda.” Steve Nackan, president of Aecon Concessions, stated: “We are very pleased to see the project move forward and are confident it will bring substantial value to both Bermuda and Aecon. Working with the Canadian Commercial Corporation and the Government of Bermuda, Aecon will meet the set objectives — delivering a world-class airport, as well as providing significant economic benefits to Bermuda. As Bermuda’s largest infrastructure project, swift financial close on this innovative arrangement demonstrates the quality of the project, as well as Aecon’s depth of experience and track record in delivering projects around the globe. Aecon’s role as developer, investor, design-builder and operator highlights Aecon’s turnkey service offering and integrated business model — developed to meet the needs of our valued clients.” Martin Zablocki, president and CEO of the Canadian Commercial Corporation, stated: “This government-to-government project embodies the value, trust and collaboration of the longstanding bilateral relationship between Canada and Bermuda. Knowing the positive economic impact a modernized airport can have on Bermuda, CCC is excited to play a key role in the delivery of a world-class, customized solution to meet the needs of Bermudians, for both today, and generations to come.”
2017. March 17. A seven strong team of local professionals have been appointed to serve as members of the newly created Bermuda Airport Authority. The new Bermuda Government airport quango will be chaired by Mark Fields, retired General Manager of Sol Bermuda, while Lester Nelson will take on the position of chief executive officer. Mr Nelson has more than 25 years of experience in aviation and business management and was the first Bermudian manager of Air Operations. The BAA’s memberships will also include Judith Hall-Bean, former assistant secretary to the Cabinet, Andrew Parsons, retired president of Belco, Robert Steynor, retired senior vice president of fuels, logistics, environment and safety at Belco, Ian MacIntyre, the director of the Bermuda Department of Civil Aviation until his retirement in 2008, and Marshall Minors, vice president for Facilities Management, Engineering Services, Property Management and Hotel Services for the Bermuda Hospitals Board. Senator Michael Fahy, the Minister of Tourism and Transport, said “This is indeed a fantastic board, made up of industry experts and seasoned professionals, who are all Bermudian. I am confident that they will serve Bermuda well.” The BAA will be tasked with ensuring the interests of the Bermuda Government and Bermuda are protected and that the airport operator and vendors are held accountable to the standards set out in their contractual obligations. The quango will take on the responsibility of selected, retained Government services such as air traffic control operations, meteorological services, airport fire and rescue services and ground electronics, which are currently the responsibility of the Department of Airport Operations. It will also regulate passenger fees and has discretion in approving increases in such fees and be responsible for identifying additional revenue generating opportunities.
2017. March 16. Heavy materials and equipment for the airport redevelopment are due to start arriving next month at the East End. The move is expected to bring fresh activity to Marginal Wharf in St David’s, where finance minister Bob Richards said “the docks will have to be cleared. The main loading port will be St George’s, so that we don’t have the challenge of bringing these materials across the Causeway." A Public Works spokeswoman described the move as logistically sound, considering the proximity of LF Wade International Airport, where the new terminal is to be built. A smaller matter is the presence of the Niobe Corinthian, the defunct casino ship earmarked for sinking as an artificial reef, which must be shifted to a mooring to make way. But another issue spells disaster for Jepheth Newton, whose trawler Esperanza went under near the dock after last October’s hit from Hurricane Nicole. Informed this month that the boat must be moved before April, Mr Newton’s chances of salvaging it have grown slimmer still. “It’s sad,” said the Esperanza’s owner, who will be formally issued tomorrow with a wreck removal notice. Mr Newton had been pursuing his own avenues for raising the boat, when he was told on March 10 that the Harbourmaster had been instructed “to have the Esperanza moved and to bill you”, according to e-mails seen by this newspaper. “The new airport is supposed to work for all Bermudians, but this is going to take a hard-working Bermudian and knock him back to square zero with no boat and a $30,000 bill.” Buying and refurbishing the 92ft vessel in June 2013 marked the culmination of a dream for Mr Newton, who describes himself as an IT programmer from a humble background who hoped to live and run a business of his own off the boat. In 2015 he brought the vessel home, but subsequently lost his job and could not cover insurance for the $60,000 craft. It weathered other storms — but Nicole, which blew from a more easterly angle than expected, drove the Esperanza against Marginal Wharf where its stern was driven against the Niobe Corinthian. The boat took on water, and sank, intact. Mr Newton pointed to correspondence with the Harbourmaster in which he proposed raising the boat himself after securing part-time jobs. He subsequently ordered air bags to the tune of $8,000 to lift it off the bottom, only to be told that local authorities had been ordered to remove his boat and charge him. A meeting has been scheduled for next week, and Mr Newton said he feared that his vessel, which he believes can be towed off site for a quick restoration, could end up at the dump. “I just hope we can come to some kind of compromise,” he said. “I can’t let this happen. I’ll sit on the boat and protest if I have to.”
2017. March 16. Despite initial opposition from the Bermuda Government, the Commission of Inquiry pressed ahead to look into parts of the airport development project. The panel focused on whether Government had secured the appropriate waiver from Financial Instructions to allow them not to tender the project. In finding no evidence of “possible criminal activity” the Commission said the airport project showed how effective the office of Accountant-General “can be, and should be”. Its report commended Accountant-General Curtis Stovell for his response to Government’s request for a waiver in September 2014 in which he provided Financial Secretary Anthony Manders with a detailed memorandum outlining the relevant sections of Financial Instructions and the precise terms of the waiver. But the Commission found that Mr Manders had failed to make clear that the waiver he sought for Canadian Crown Corporation would extend to approval of the whole project including the selection of Aecon as contractor. Mr Stovell appeared before the Commission and told the panel that the waiver in the memorandum was restricted to “the agreement with CCC, not for any further contracts entered into by Government, say for example with a contractor.” However, Mr Manders considered the Accountant-General’s waiver was sufficient for the project to move ahead and that no further waiver was needed for the selection of a contractor. The Commission in its report confirmed that it was for the Accountant-General to determine on what basis a waiver should be issued. In looking at the airport project, the Commission also noted that there appeared to be “no express provision or provisions in Financial Instructions that address proposed public-private partnerships”. The report states: “The Commission also learnt that there are still instances where the current Accountant-General considers that his office is still without sufficient resources to undertake some of the work his department should be doing. If oversight is going to be effective, it needs to be contemporaneous, and resources should be made available as needed. Reviews, and special audits and commissions of inquiry have far less value when the horse has long since left the stable.”
2017. February 23. Opinion, Everard T. “Bob” Richards, Minister of Finance, Deputy Premier of Bermuda and the MP for Devonshire East Constituency 11. "The Government of Bermuda, together with our partners will develop a new airport terminal, designed to be more efficient, enjoyable and safe. This month, two pieces of significant enabling legislation regarding the Airport Redevelopment Project will be signed into law by the Governor. This is the culmination of 2½ years’ work, analysis, due diligence and negotiation. The signing of these Bills brings us one step closer towards a new, state-of-the-art airport that will provide a sizeable boost to Bermuda’s economy. This new legislation means that the soon to be launched Bermuda Skyport Corporation — a Bermudian company incorporated by Aecon — will take on the responsibilities of running the existing airport. The revenue from the airport will be collected by Skyport. Collected revenues will go towards urgent repairs to the existing terminal, construction of the new terminal, operating and maintaining the airport over the length of the contract term, paying back investors and paying airport staff salaries. Skyport will also split profits with the Government of Bermuda as per contractual terms. Existing airport staff at the Department of Airport Operations will either transfer to Skyport or to the Bermuda Airport Authority, a new government airport quango responsible for overseeing Skyport. There is expected to be a 50 per cent increase in staff working at Skyport and at the BAA. Construction of the new airport will begin in spring 2017, with ground breaking expected to take place near Stone Crusher Corner. After an information session for local construction industry members in November 2016, Bermudian companies have been invited to pre-qualify to bid for contracts on the project. To date, 43 Bermudian companies have submitted qualifications for consideration. Skyport and Aecon will continue reaching out to local industry and educational institutions to ensure that Bermudians have access to employment and training opportunities. As the new terminal will be built separate from the existing one, it will be business as usual at LF Wade International Airport. This also means that, for the duration of construction, travelers will not have to navigate a major construction site when departing or arriving to our island. With the passing of legislation, immediate urgent repairs to the airport will be made, ensuring visitors for the 35th America’s Cup enjoy the best experience possible at our existing terminal. In 2016, we had an incredible increase of 17 per cent in leisure air tourism to Bermuda and we are working to keep this trend going, so it is crucial that this period of changeover goes as smoothly as possible. The Canadian Commercial Corporation and Aecon, as per the terms and conditions of the agreement with the Government of Bermuda, will deliver the project on time, on budget and to specification. The agreement provides Skyport with a 30-year lease of LF Wade International Airport, but it is important to remember that the airport and the land upon which it sits will always fully belong to the Government of Bermuda. The agreed period for this lease cannot be extended, which means that in 2047, the running and assets of the airport will revert to the Bermuda Government in its entirety. The passing of the legislation marks another milestone achieved in this government’s plan to return Bermuda to prosperity. Having emerged from a recession last year, this is a great stepping stone for our growth and recovery. The new terminal will be a modern, state-of-the-art building that will show our visitors what they can expect from Bermuda and its people: a shining beacon of our hospitality."
2017. February 16. Bermuda is to push ahead with plans to develop a new airport after two Bills crucial to the project were passed in the Senate last night. While all Progressive Labour Party senators voted against the Bermuda Airport Authority Act 2017 the Bill was supported by all government and independent senators and there were no objections to the passing of the Airport Redevelopment Concessions Act 2017. After a spirited debate, opened with senator and transport minister Michael Fahy saying that an unprecedented level of misinformation had been released, the Upper House came down to a vote shortly after 6.20pm. The first Bill, he said, would create the Bermuda Airport Authority. This would take over responsibility for the general administration, control and management of LF Wade International Airport and oversee the redevelopment of the facility by the Canadian Commercial Corporation, and its maintenance and operation by Bermuda Skyport Corporation Ltd. Several issues were raised throughout the session starting with Progressive Labour Party Leader in the Senate Renee Ming citing what she perceived as the project’s lack of transparency. “How can this be a partnership when the public is kept out of the partner’s business and how can we sit here today to make a fair assessment of a deal we don’t have all the details for,” she pressed. Mr Fahy addressed such concerns raised saying: “More information has been disclosed to the public in this transaction than any other in the history of Bermuda. Any claim otherwise is strictly political theatre, nothing more.” President of the Senate Carol Ann Bassett echoed his remarks in her speech at the end of the debate saying she had not seen such transparency on a project in her 13 years in the Senate. The One Bermuda Alliance’s Jeffrey Baron said the debates on the airport project over the last two years have ranged from mundane to profane, blaming politics for making the issue as heated as it has become. Meanwhile independent senator James Jardine said he hoped that Government would consider a Joint Select Committee to review controversial legislation such as the airport project before it reaches the House of Assembly so that they can be fully and frankly discussed at an earlier stage. Mr Jardine largely welcomed the Bills saying he was confident that the government to government option made the most financial and economic sense under the circumstances. The senator did raise concern about the minimum revenue guarantee designed to protect equity and debt holders should air traffic arrivals not meet expectations. Such a scenario would leave Bermuda liable to foot the difference, but Mr Jardine said he had had reassuring conversations with the government with regards to taking out insurance coverage. “This is a risk that I believe Bermuda should mitigate,” he said. On the subject of the guarantee, Mr Fahy said Bermuda should not be put off by uncertain air arrival numbers. “If that is the way we engage with major projects we would never build anything.” OBA Senator Lynn Woolridge said that to patch up the airport with renovations amounted to “throwing good money after bad.” She spoke on how the Opposition had persistently moved the goalposts on its reception of the deal saying at first the idea was attacked, then the process and now the “rallying cry against privatization”. But she stressed that under the deal, Bermuda would retain control of the airport which would not have been the case with full privatization. The PLP’s Tinee Furbert opened her comments by saying that her husband worked at the airport and while she was “concerned” about the conditions under which he had to work, she was also concerned with the causeway and other areas of Bermuda’s infrastructure that needed attention. Newly appointed Senator Andrew Simons said he had asked himself whether Bermuda needs a new airport, what type of airport it needs and how it should be paid for. “Yes we do” was the answer to his first question describing the facility as “critical infrastructure”. He said while we did not need a “temple for manned flight”, Bermuda did need a modern, safe and accessible facility. And speaking on funding he said Bermuda did not have the capacity to incur further debt when interest rates are connected to risk. PLP Senator Kim Wilkerson insisted that her party “was not being disagreeable for the sake of being disagreeable” in its wide-ranging opposition to the deal but that it felt unable to fulfil its obligations to the people of Bermuda without all the information it requested around the deal.
2017. February 13. Two Bills crucial to the Bermuda Government’s airport redevelopment were finally approved by 5.15am on Saturday, after a hard-fought 14 hours in the House of Assembly, The Upper House will be the next focal point for lobbying of legislators — with the Progressive Labour Party urging the public to “contact Senators to encourage them to bring a pause to the privatization of our airport”. Calling the debate “very impassioned”, Michael Dunkley last night added: “It was an incredibly long and spirited parliamentary session, and I appreciate all Members’ contribution. Government maintains that the airport redevelopment project will be significantly beneficial for the people of Bermuda,” the Premier continued, describing the government as “very satisfied” at the passage of the Airport Development Concession Act 2016 and the Bermuda Airport Authority Act 2016. We now await the Senate debate and we will be following those proceedings very closely.” “Disappointed, yet not surprised” was the verdict from David Burt, the Leader of the Opposition, in a statement issued directly after the close of debate. Mr Burt noted that Independent MP Shawn Crockwell, along with the One Bermuda Alliance back bench, had supported both Bills. Although the Senate is scheduled to convene today, items from February 3 such as casino regulations are up for deliberation, leaving the next phase of the airport debate farther down the line. Much of Friday’s debate reiterated the two parties’ entrenched airport narratives, but both sides occasionally stood in accord: PLP MP Rolfe Commissiong, and Mark Pettingill of the OBA, both raised mistrust over Bermudian employment at the airport, which Mr Commissiong said was viewed as “hardly different than what we’re seeing with the America’s Cup. Bermudians are not convinced with these types of projects ... they know that it will be only one benefiting: a very small, very powerful group,” Mr Commissiong said, rising after public works minister Craig Cannonier challenged the PLP to “name me a business of colour that got a multimillion-dollar contract” under their administration. Accusing Mr Cannonier of “consistently misrepresenting the record of the PLP”, Mr Commissiong also cited the classroom hours required for Bermudian laborers to get work at the LF Wade International Airport redevelopment, which he said presented a barrier to local employment. “Everyone knows that it was Aecon that selected CCC,” he added — suggesting that local construction head Michael Butt, whose position on the board of Aecon was raised in the wake of the airport project’s announcement, had tipped off Canadian Commercial Corporation to the project. “I am going to contend it was people like Michael Butt, a key OBA supporter, that probably within hours of them winning the Government was on the phone to Canada to mobilize the whole thing,” Mr Commissiong went on. “I could be wrong, but that’s my view.” Telling MPs that he had been “fundamentally torn” over the airport development, Mr Pettingill said Mr Commissiong had “referred to Anglo-Saxon discrimination that perpetuates to this day. I am a blue-eyed Anglo-Saxon — that’s my heritage. And if we Anglo-Saxons don’t pause for a second and realize that the honourable Member is speaking his truth and his perception and his facts and his reality from his heart, then we have a serious problem.” Much was made of the OBA MPs’ early arrival at Sessions House, with deputy Opposition leader Walter Roban criticizing the ruling party for entering the House “under cover of darkness like a thief in the night. This project started wrong, and it continues wrong,” Mr Roban added. Jeanne Atherden, the Minister of Health, accused the Progressive Labour Party of “not being honest about why they are against the project”, saying the people of Bermuda had been used as “pawns”. Referring to their early arrival in Parliament Cole Simons, the Minister of the Environment, said: “We did what we did to deliver on the goods.” PLP MP Jamahl Simmons said: “People know this is a shady deal. We are about to make a bad decision. The Government has the numbers but when the book is written it will show only one side stood strong for the people of Bermuda, and there was another group prepared to sell off the airport and send millions to Canada.” Sylvan Richards, the Minister for Sport and Social Development, said: “The Opposition are against the airport deal because it’s the OBA’s plan.” Describing the PLP as “masters of manipulation”, he argued that the polls had changed in the Government’s favour. PLP MP Dennis Lister maintained that the Government did not have the mandate to push ahead with the airport redevelopment plan, and noted that during his talks with Mr Richards during the December 2 standoff outside Parliament, the minister had conceded that the OBA had not campaigned in 2012 with the airport development on its platform. Meanwhile, shadow transport minister Lawrence Scott told the House that he had “good information” that “Aecon are masters of manipulation”, claiming that the airport deal had been “passed around”, and that under the deal the Airport Authority would not be independent. Rising at 2.15am, the Minister of Finance told MPs: “There’s been a lot of talk about giving money and giving profits to Aecon. If you hand over a $35,000 cheque to a car dealer to get a car, are you handing them $35,000? No. You’re buying a car.” Bermuda, Mr Richards said, would own the new terminal “from the moment it’s built”. The narrative that “an alien force is sucking money out of Bermuda” was “unnecessarily inflammatory”, Mr Richards said. As for the public-private partnership, Mr Richards said that but for the government’s $2.4 billion debt, “we would not be even considering this. We are doing this because of the situation we’re in. And the alternatives I have heard from the other side don’t take this into account ... to avoid adding capital debt for this project, we have to do some sort of off-balance sheet financing.” Discounting calls for its finance model to be disclosed, Mr Richards called the demands “sheer rubbish”, adding that even if he could have provided the model, “they would find some other reason to object”. Mr Richards acknowledged that communication over the deal “could have been better”, adding: “If that’s true, it’s my fault. That’s on me.” He insisted that the stipulations involved in the deal had been contingent on “market forces”, but added: “The notion that we gave Aecon everything they wanted — how wrong is that? We negotiated a really good deal for the people of Bermuda.” Addressing the point that the development had not been included in the OBA’s electoral platform, Mr Richards said: “That’s true. But what we did say was that we were going to encourage capital projects — to encourage inward direct investment into this island.”
2017. Saturday, February 11. Legislation paving the way for the Bermuda Government’s airport redevelopment project was approved early this morning by MPs despite vociferous opposition from Progressive Labour Party MPs. At 4.20am today, after almost 14 hours of debate, the Airport Authority Act 2017, was passed by 18 votes to 16, with MPs voting on party lines and independent MP Shawn Crockwell supporting the Act. The Parliamentarians went on to consider a second piece of legislation, the Airport Redevelopment Concession Act 2017, which was approved at 5.15am. The heated debate came after Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, had opted to send union members back to work after just 150 to 200 showed up yesterday morning at Union Square. Disappointed by the turnout, Mr Furbert declared that it was impossible to ask “the minority to carry the majority forward.” According to Premier Michael Dunkley, One Bermuda Alliance MPs arrived at the House far earlier than usual: the Premier said he showed up at about 6am, aiming to be “early and prepared”. Yesterday afternoon, as the debate neared, it faced another challenge in the form of an Opposition motion, brought by Shadow Attorney-General Michael Scott, which sought to defer it, charging that Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, had breached parliamentary rules — first, on December 2, by withholding the project agreement from MPs, and most recently by withholding the financial model. The motion was allowed by Randy Horton, the Speaker of the House, but ultimately defeated. When the debate of the Bermuda Airport Authority Act finally got under way at about 3.30pm Mr Richards, told the House that the project would cost $302 million and take 40 months to complete. He maintained that Bermudians and local firms would be given priority when it came to jobs created by the project adding: “More information, over 1,000 pages, has been disclosed to the public in this project than any other project in the history of Bermuda”. Pointing to the findings of the Blue Ribbon Panel that described the deal as “commercially sound” Mr Richards concluded: “This transaction represents the best way forward given the atrocious hand left to us by the former Government.” But Opposition leader David Burt condemned the Government for lying about the project, which he said would result in hundreds of millions of dollars being sent to a Canadian company. In an impassioned speech Mr Burt questioned whether the OBA thought a building was more important than the people of Bermuda adding: “The priorities are wrong”. He told the House: “A vote ‘no’ tells the people of this country that our schools and our children’s future is more important than a building.” Mr Burt accused the Government of privatizing the airport under the deal saying: “It’s a private company making money off a public asset. Why won’t the Minister of Finance tell us how much the private partner stands to make from this deal?” He claimed that under the 30-year deal, using the most conservative estimate, Aecon would receive $356 million in dividends, while the tax payers of Bermuda would get zero. “But we are still stuck with $586 million in expenses, “ Mr Burt added. “That’s a difference of $942 million which works out as $31 million a year.” Grant Gibbons, the Minister of Economic Development, branded the Opposition hypocritical for questioning the transparency of the project adding: “It’s very easy to multiply out these numbers over a long time, but that is not the way that these projects should be analyzed.” Telling the House that “somebody on this side will probably be cutting the ribbon on an airport we don’t want”, Opposition MP Wayne Furbert said that the only people who could stop the project were MPs on the Government side. Mr Crockwell gave his support for the legislation but conceded that the warring opinions, including those of economists, “can cloud your mind” — and that information had taken root in the community that was “way off-base, and that became entrenched”. The ensuing debate played out along party lines: OBA MP Suzann Roberts-Holshouser, who represents St George’s South, called for a better working environment for her constituents, while PLP MP Walton Brown called the deal tainted from the start — saying Aecon had “preselected itself” before approaching Canadian Commercial Corporation, and telling the House than an unnamed member of the Blue Ribbon Panel had told him: “That’s the way business is done.” PLP MP Kim Wilson lamented that the “meat and potatoes” of the project was missing, while fellow Opposition MP Michael Scott echoed Ms Wilson’s sentiments and described Mr Richard’s position in the deal as “woefully conflicted. This debate has been weakened and impeded and does a great disservice to our island home,” Mr Scott added. Patricia Gordon Pamplin, the Minister of Home Affairs, hailed the training opportunities the project would give to young Bermudians, while OBA MPs Jeff Sousa and Susan Jackson both expressed support for the airport project. PLP MP Zane DeSilva suggested that some Government MPs had not even read the file about the project before throwing their support behind it and added: “How can we say this is the best deal, if it’s the only deal?” Opposition MP Diallo Rabain branded the airport deal “shady and underhanded” before taking a swipe at the Government saying: “They were weak in opposition, and they’re even weaker as Government.” PLP MP Michael Weeks lambasted the idea of the new airport rejuvenating tourism, saying airports were “the last thing I would consider” when travelling — and suggested the $184 million renovation presented a better option. Craig Cannonier, the Minister of Public Works, extolled the Blue Ribbon Panel’s assessment, praised the overall level of scrutiny, and called it “unfair” to insinuate that the project was being “forced” on the country. The debate over the second piece of legislation, the Airport Redevelopment Concession Act 2017, was completed in just over an hour before being approved by MPs without the need for a vote. Mr Richards told the House that the Act would afford relief from customs duties, taxes and miscellaneous fees to facilitate the redevelopment project. But PLP MP Lawrence Scott condemned the concessions outlined in the Act accusing Government of “giving everything away. These concessions are not what is best for the country,” Mr Scott said. “They put us at risk at the worst of losing all commercial air traffic. They have given away the airport.” Mr Burt also questioned what he described as “blanket concessions”.
2017. February 11. The Progressive Labour Party refuses to go quietly into the night on the airport redevelopment project and has now called on the public to flood senators with their concerns about LF Wade International being turned over for “privatization”. Parliamentarians debated until almost 4.30am today before the second reading of the Bermuda Airport Authority Act 2017 was passed by a vote of 18-16 and within an hour David Burt, the Leader of the Opposition, penned a press statement in which he all but authorised the 11 senators who make up the Upper House to have their inboxes bombarded and phones ringing off the hook. “We are disappointed, yet not surprised, that the OBA government acted against the best interests of Bermudians by voting to privatize our airport for 30 years,” Mr Burt said. “This deal will send $2.4 billion of revenue to a Canadian company, while Bermudian taxpayers are burdened with a $586 million bill. “This deal has been marked with questions and controversy from the very start. Since no members of the OBA back bench or the independent MP [are] willing to take a stand, the privatization of Bermuda’s airport is one step closer to reality.” With voting expected to remain on party lines, independent senators Carol Ann Bassett and Joan Dillas-Wright, the president and vice-president respectively, and James Jardine are expected to come under the most scrutiny. “The Senate now has a chance to weigh in and vote against the OBA’s airport privatization Bill that will weaken the country’s finances,” Mr Burt added in his statement. “We urge all Bermudians opposed to the transfer of $2.4 billion in tax revenue to a Canadian company to contact senators to encourage them to bring a pause to the privatization of our airport.” Senate returns to session on Monday but the airport deal, although on the Order Paper, will not be debated as the Upper House gets through a raft of other legislation that had been put in abeyance owing to the disruptions that stemmed from December 2. Also passed this morning, but without a vote required, was the Airport Redevelopment Concession Act 2017. The Government’s five senators are Jeff Baron, Michael Fahy, Georgia Marshall, Vic Ball and Lynn Woolridge, while the PLP’s three are Kim Wilkerson, Renee Ming and Tinee Furbert.
2017. February 11. They responded to the rallying cry and gathered for another day of protests, but by 9.15am they were sent back to work. Between 150 and 200 people were at Union Square yesterday morning, with a podium set up and speakers playing gospel music, in anticipation of a demonstration against the One Bermuda Alliance’s plan to build a new airport. However, BIU chief Chris Furbert — who had urged the country to show up to “stop police and the Bermuda Government” as key airport-related legislation finally reached Parliament — made the shock announcement that planned action had been called off. Mr Furbert also lashed out at the public for their lack of support in trying to block the airport plans. “I don’t blame the OBA government totally. I blame the people,” he said. “Because no matter how many times they do this we simply go and kick the can down the road. Why? Because they can’t afford to lose a day’s pay? News flash — with all the increases in the fees we are going to lose it anyway. It’s gone.” He said that while union members have struggled and worked hard to benefit the people they could not bear the burden alone, adding that he would not send his people on a mission doomed for failure. There are a lot of people who are not going to be happy,” Mr Furbert said. “We tried, we tried and we tried and that’s all we can do. We cannot ask the minority to carry the majority forward.” While he said that general members of the public were free to demonstrate at the House, Mr Furbert urged all union members to return to work, saying that if they chose to stay and protest they would be on their own. From midnight, police had been in place outside Sessions House, with sections barricaded to ensure MPs could get into the building. However, it emerged One Bermuda Alliance MPs had been inside five hours before the House was due to open, and barricades were eventually removed at about 10am. “They have been there since 5am,” Mr Furbert told union members and supporters. “That’s to avoid being in confrontation with the people. Someone called me and told me that, so I made some phone calls and I confirmed that the OBA members are already in the House. What kind of Government is supposed to be leading the people’s business like that? What are they hiding?” At 6am, the Government had warned public services could face disruption, but by late morning it announced buses and ferries were running as normal.
2017. February 11. A handful of protesters turned up at the House of Assembly yesterday to make their own stand against the airport Bill, with one saying they didn’t need the union to lead them as if “we have got a ring in our nose”. The majority of those making a peaceful demonstration against two airport Bills that were scheduled to be debated in Parliament were retired seniors. They told The Royal Gazette they decided to make a stand despite Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert calling off an official union protest following a lack of support. Francis Breary, retiree and former manager at Hamilton Princess Hotel, told The Royal Gazette: “The people here are the older generation — we fought to make this country what it is. We know what it is to protest, it is the only power we have. We are here to let the people in the House know that there are still concerned people. We are all individuals. When the union is doing something, let’s not figure they are leading us around like we have got a ring in our nose.” Ross Furbert, a former government employee in the Department of Health and BIU supporter, felt the same way, telling this newspaper: “People have been riding on the back of the BIU members but it is time for the people to stand up. The union has done as much as it can. I don’t blame him [Chris Furbert].” Mr Furbert not only lost the support of his members over yesterday’s protest — he also suffered a backlash over his threat to derail the 35th America’s Cup. Both Mr Furbert and Ms Breary said that it was not up to them to decide whether Chris Furbert was the best man for the job and such a decision was up to the members. Ms Breary said: “I can imagine how Chris Furbert feels — like the door has been slammed in his face and he feels belittled. He is in a strong position but the people feel that it is useless. Government has set out to do it and so they are up against a brick wall. Chris Furbert is only one man — he has proved he can be level-headed.” Ross Furbert added: “He has served the union well. Only members can decide — this is a democracy.” Asked why they believed more people had not supported the protest, both felt that the people had given up hope that they could make a change. “The people feel defeated after the Blue Ribbon [panel which this week endorsed the airport deal],” Ms Breary said. “I expected Blue Ribbon to endorse what they endorsed — they had no objections from day one.” Ross Furbert said: “People are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Some people said to me what’s the use, they are going to do what they want to do anyway — 18 people are going to tell us it [the airport] is the best deal. I am tired but I have to persevere for my grandchildren. The Government has a false sense of security but it is going to come back and bite them. They have to learn to listen to the people.” Ms Breary said she had hope that a better relationship could be nurtured between the union and employers, making reference to successes in Hamilton’s docks. “Since Mr [Warren] Jones has been there he has been willing to make a change; to make things better and has collaborated with the union. There is criteria for training and more modern equipment. It has been turned around and they have a good morale and pride. Happy cows give good milk.”
2017. February 11. Chris Furbert says he will continue to head the Bermuda Industrial Union after protests focusing on the proposed airport expansion plan failed to materialize yesterday. “My position is not up until 2018,” the BIU president told The Royal Gazette. “I have no intentions of going anywhere right now.” Mr Furbert spoke to this newspaper shortly after telling a crowd of up to 200 people to go back to work instead of protesting against the One Bermuda Alliance’s plans for a new terminal. In the run-up to yesterday, Mr Furbert had led a rallying cry for people to show up and oppose the development as MPs debated airport legislation at the House of Assembly. It came a month after the BIU’s threat to derail the America’s Cup received a very poor reception from the public, and from sections of the union membership. Speaking to this newspaper about his future yesterday, Mr Furbert said: “I’m elected by the membership, and if the membership will help me serve another term, I will serve another term for the membership. It’s their decision, not mine, it’s theirs.” Mr Furbert also offered further explanation for why he had urged union members to return to work. “We said that if we got a good response then we would go to the House, and if we didn’t get a good response then we wouldn’t go,” he explained. “There are a lot of people out there that are agreeing that this deal is not a good deal, but are not prepared to come out and protest.” The airport project has been vehemently opposed by the BIU, the Progressive Labour Party and the People’s Campaign, but a poll commissioned by The Royal Gazette, published yesterday, found that 62 per cent of registered voters want the Bermuda Government to pursue the plan. Mr Furbert argued support thrown behind the proposal — including by the Blue Ribbon Panel and the Bermuda Tourism Authority — was not surprising. “All these people support the OBA government. So why would they not come out and make a statement that we support?,” he said. Mr Furbert was in the headlines last month when he helped lead protests against the Bermuda Government’s refusal to renew the work permit for the Reverend Nicholas Tweed. At that time, he warned unless Mr Tweed’s permit was renewed, and the airport redevelopment taken off the table, the America’s Cup “will be in jeopardy”. A poll commissioned by The Royal Gazette found that 86 per cent of respondents did not support the ultimatum, with 7 per cent agreeing with the stance, and 7 per cent undecided. Of the 12 BIU members included in the poll, 10 said they did not support the demand.
2017. February 10. Union president Chris Furbert sent members back to work this morning, as anticipated protests about the proposed building of a new airport took a dramatic twist. Mr Furbert lashed out at the public for their lack of support as the Bermuda Industrial Union tried to block the One Bermuda Alliance’s plans for the new terminal. Between 150 and 200 people had showed up at Union Square this morning, in response to the Mr Furbert’s rallying cry yesterday. Mr Furbert told the crowd that union members had been behind the struggle and they will not bear the burden any more. It comes as MPs prepare to debate two pieces of legislation paving the way for the building of a new airport, which has been vigorously opposed by the Progressive Labour Party and the People’s Campaign. From the early hours today, police have been in place outside Sessions House, with sections barricaded to ensure MPs can get into the building during the early part of the day. One Bermuda Alliance MPs were said to be inside the building from about 5am. Mr Furbert said of the OBA politicians: “They have been there since 5am. That’s to avoid being in confrontation with the people. Someone called me and told me that, so I made some phone calls and I confirmed that the OBA members are already in the House. What kind of Government is supposed to be leading the people’s business like that? What are they hiding?” And addressing a crowd outside the BIU headquarters, Mr Furbert lamented that only 150 to 200 people had come this morning to demonstrate. “I blame the people, because no matter how many times they do this we simply go and kick the can down the road.” He said that while the union has worked hard for the people, they cannot do it alone and he would not send his people on a mission doomed for failure. “There are a lot of people who are not going to be happy,” he said. “We tried, we tried and we tried and that’s all we can do. We cannot ask the minority to carry the majority forward.” While he said that general members of the public are free to demonstrate at the House, he urged all union members to return to work, saying that if they chose to stay and protest they would be on their own. Mr Furbert said that regardless of the party, MPs should be doing the people’s business. He dismissed the Blue Ribbon Panel’s approval of the airport project, along with that of several bodies including the Chamber of Commerce, who have voiced support for the airport redevelopment saying all of the bodies support the OBA. Outside BIU headquarters, speakers had been set up and music was being played, ahead of an anticipated gathering. The Bermuda Government had warned public services could face disruption at 6am, but by late morning it announced buses and ferries were running as normal. Follow The Royal Gazette’s website for major breaking stories this evening as MPs prepare to vote on the Airport Authority Act and the Airport Redevelopment Concession Act. 3.30pm: The first debate on two pieces of airport legislation is now under way. 3.20pm: The motion to defer the debate has been defeated. MPs vote on the PLP’s motion, with Mr Horton ruling that the nays will prevail. 3.05pm: Mr Richards, rising for his allotted 20 minutes, tells Parliament that “myself and my colleagues have been the best stewards of the public purse that this country has seen in a long time”, charging that the Opposition’s record had been “abysmal”. The finance minister accuses the PLP of giving “nary a whimper” in October when he approved a $660 million loan for ten years: “nearly double the size of this airport transaction. We have counter parties to this transaction. Everything that has been released by myself, either voluntarily or at the request or demand of the Opposition, we have had to have the permission of our counter parties.” Mr Richards points out that the Government was under non-disclosure agreements, citing similar restrictions on information for the hospital’s acute care wing. “The request is not for financial information for this transaction. That is not it at all,” Mr Richards says, saying the model applied to a private company referred to as Project Co, properly named Bermuda Skyport Corporation, which has “no Bermuda Government ownership, none whatsoever”. The minister says the Government had gone “the extra 100 miles” in giving information, likening the financial model to the tools of the trade of financial analysts and not the property of the Government. 2.50pm: Mr Scott says privilege extends to “informing members with documentation or calling witnesses so that they can make rational, intelligent, meaningful decisions” for the effective discharge of collective functions, adding that Mr Richards had thereby breached parliamentary rules. “Members of the Legislature are here for singular purposes: to make good law, effective law, and we can’t do that without being informed about what we are debating,” Mr Scott says. 2.45pm: Mr Scott accuses Mr Richards of refusing to share “vital information” in the form of the Project Agreement before December 2, and a further breach of privilege for not including the finance model for today’s debate. Mr Scott says it had been the Opposition’s realistic expectation that the details would have been included when the agreement was released. 2.40pm: Shadow Attorney-General Michael Scott issues a formal complaint, calling for the airport debate to be deferred until the agreement’s financial model is disclosed to the House. The motion is against Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance. Randy Horton, the Speaker, says both will now give 20-minute presentations to the House. Mr Horton says the motion had been provided to Mr Richards last night as the minister impugned, although Trevor Moniz, the Attorney-General, protests that the OBA side has yet to receive the document. Mr Scott begins his motion by citing a breach of House privilege in Mr Richards’s role as Minister of Finance. Noon: A handful of mostly elderly protesters share their thoughts with this newspaper. Francis Breary, retiree and former manager at Hamilton Princess Hotel, says: “We are here today to let the people in the house know that there are still concerned people. The people here are the older generation. We fought to make this country what it is.” Ross Furbert, a former government employee in the Department of Health and BIU supporter, says: “People are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Some people said to me what’s the use, they are going to do what they want to do anyway: 18 people are going to tell us it [the airport] is the best deal.” 11.40am: Michael Dunkley gives the House details about activities that took place on December 2, when protests over the airport debate caused the legislation to be delayed until today, and led to demonstrators being controversially pepper-sprayed by police. The Premier says he had six phone conversations with the Commissioner of Police on that day, regarding the ability of MPs to get into the House. “Police operations are in the remit of the Commissioner and that’s where it stands,” says the Premier, who has insisted no tactical options were discussed by himself with members of the Bermuda Police Service. Today, Mr Dunkley further states that he did not have conversations with anyone else within the Bermuda Police Service. 11.20am: Bus and ferry services are operating as normal today, the Ministry of Tourism and Transport advises. 11am: About 20 members of the public are in the gallery as normal House activities continue. Another small group remains outside, on Parliament Street. 10.05am: OBA MP Sylvan Richards formally apologizes for his comments in the House of Assembly last week. “For my comments last week, I would like to apologize to you, the House and the member from Constituency 24,” Mr Richards says to Speaker Randy Horton. Meanwhile outside, police take down barriers outside the House. 10am: The session in the House begins, with all OBA MPs present in the Chamber, including Michael Dunkley, who had faced potential travel difficulties because of grounded flights in the United States yesterday. The Premier has announced on Instagram that he made his flight last night. Most PLP MPs are also present. 9.30am: It is all quiet outside the House of Assembly, with one police officer saying: “This is it, hopefully.” 9.15am: Mr Furbert addresses the crowd outside BIU headquarters and sends union members back to work. 9am: A large crowd of people emerge from the BIU entrance, where a podium has been set up. 8.55am: General council members are called into the building at the BIU. 8.45am: Numbers continue to swell outside the BUI with close to 100 people, and a small handful of police officers, now waiting for the next step. 8.15am: A slow trickle of union members begin to arrive at Union Square. 8am: Buses and ferries appear to be running as normal. 7.45am: Speakers are set up and music is being played outside BIU headquarters, ahead of a meeting called by president Chris Furbert. 7am: A route to the House entrance remains clear, with dozens of police officers in place, but hardly any members of the public have arrived at the grounds of Session House. 6am: Government warns of potential disruption to public services as a result of a planned morning meeting for the Bermuda Industrial Union. 5am: One Bermuda Alliance MPs reportedly enter the Parliament building, five hours before the session is due to begin. Midnight: Police take their positions outside the House of Assembly, with barricades in place to ensure MPs can enter Parliament for today’s session, which will include a debate on legislation paving the way for the building of a new airport.
February 10. Expect a marathon debate down party lines as two key Acts for the airport project go before legislators today in the House of Assembly. The Airport Authority Act and the Airport Redevelopment Concession Act have been kept on hold for months — through a combination of protests, calls for details, and an independent assessment. MPs have had two weeks to study more than 600 pages of the airport project agreement, with Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, sparring with Opposition leader David Burt over whether or not its financial model merited inclusion. Although a three-line whip is guaranteed, compelling MPs to attend and to toe their respective party lines, potential twists remain — assuming today’s debate proceeds uninterrupted. Last week, when Parliament resumed after the tumultuous protests of December 2, One Bermuda Alliance MP Sylvan Richards was ordered by Randy Horton, the Speaker of the House, to leave the chamber for refusing to retract an alleged verbal jab at Lawrence Scott of the Progressive Labour Party. “You won’t be back in this House until you apologize,” Mr Horton told him on that occasion — raising the question of whether that remains the case. Mr Richards could not be reached yesterday by The Royal Gazette. Mr Horton himself proved decisive last week, casting the critical vote on the deadlocked casino legislation debate. However, the OBA has the numbers: 18 to the PLP’s 16 — although Michael Dunkley, the Premier, was grounded in New York yesterday, albeit temporarily, as the East Coast’s winter storms held up his return home from London. Meanwhile, Independent MP Shawn Crockwell, the possible wild card, assured this newspaper that he supported the project. “The Blue Ribbon report addressed any issues, hopefully, for the public,” Mr Crockwell said. “I appreciate some of the disquiet, and I will highlight my concern, but overall we need a new airport. Out of all the options, the one they are pursuing is the most practical and beneficial. Of course, while in Cabinet, I voted on entering phases one and two, knowing fully what was involved.” He added: “There will be a whip on both sides; this is one of those issues where if any member of either party breaks ranks, significant consequences will ensue.” While Mr Crockwell said he knew of no dissent in the OBA, he attributed disquiet to “how it’s been handled”. Although he called himself “thankful” for the disclosures of recent weeks, Mr Crockwell said there were OBA reservations lingering over the “methodology. The Blue Ribbon report would have been very helpful many months ago. Opposition is well entrenched and I don’t think it will be able to persuade people. To the minister’s defence, he was going about business as normal for all large contracts. There was not much disclosure for the hospital. When I was the minister I did not give disclosure to the Opposition for hotels.” Today’s first two speakers in the House get an hour each to make their case. All other Members are allowed 30 minutes’ speaking time, and OBA whip Nandi Outerbridge said all Government MPs are ready to speak. Even with just two Acts scheduled for their second readings, it adds up to a long day on the Hill. If passed, the Airport Authority Act will dispense with the Government’s Department of Airport Operations, creating a new entity to run LF Wade International Airport, while the Airport Redevelopment Concession Act grants a swath of taxes and duties connected with the terminal project. While Mr Richards has stressed that today’s debate does not amount to a vote for or against the project, it has effectively stood as such: the OBA has consistently touted the need for a new terminal without adding to the Government’s debt, while the PLP has branded it a privatization that turns over airport revenue to a foreign entity.
February 10. Nearly two-thirds of registered voters want the Bermuda Government to press ahead with its plan to build a new airport, according to a poll commissioned by The Royal Gazette this week. The survey, conducted by Global Research, found 62 per cent in favour of the proposal, with 26 per cent believing the Government should ditch the project and renovate the existing terminal instead. The remaining 12 per cent wanted neither option. Job creation and the need to repair a crumbling facility were the most popular reasons given by those in support of the development; those wanting to renovate argued that method would be less costly and would avoid leasing the airport out for a long time; a perceived lack of transparency was the top reason for those wanting neither a new build nor renovations. This newspaper commissioned the survey as the One Bermuda Alliance and Progressive Labour Party prepare to debate legislation paving the way for the development after a bitter political wrangle over its pros and cons lasting more than two years. The OBA has repeatedly said its public-private partnership with Aecon will give the island a desperately needed new airport without adding to its debt; the PLP has aggressively attacked the move as privatization, saying it will see airport revenues disappear overseas, and touting renovations as an alternative. The survey of 401 registered voters took place on Tuesday, Wednesday and yesterday, and has a margin of error of +/- 5 per cent at the 95 per cent confidence level. Voters were asked: “Which of the following statements do you most agree with?
A breakdown of the results shows whites and OBA supporters overwhelmingly in favour of a new airport; blacks and PLP supporters were more evenly divided. Among OBA supporters, 94 per cent want a new airport, with 4 per cent wanting renovations and 2 per cent saying neither. Among PLP supporters, 29 per cent want a new airport, 46 per cent want renovations and 25 per cent neither. Among whites, 91 per cent are favour of a new airport, with 7 per cent preferring renovations and the rest neither. Among blacks, 43 per cent support a new airport, 36 per cent want renovations and 21 per cent neither. The majority is in favour of a new terminal regardless of sex or age: 64 per cent of men and 59 per cent of women; 58 per cent of people aged over 65 and more than 60 per cent of every other age group. Respondents were also asked for a reason behind their answer. Among those wanting a new airport, the top reasons were:
Among those wanting renovations, the top reasons were:
Among those wanting neither a new airport or renovations, the top reasons were:
The last scientific poll on the airport commissioned by this newspaper took place in March last year, and found 53 per cent of voters did not want the Government to go ahead with its public-private partnership, with 37 per cent in favour and 10 per cent unsure.
2017. February 9. Chris Furbert has called on opponents of the airport redevelopment project to “show up” at Union Square this morning as MPs prepare to debate legislation paving the way for the new terminal. The president of the Bermuda Industrial Union’s rallying call came on the eve of the parliamentary debate of two airport Acts that has been repeatedly postponed and sparked protests on December 2. Meanwhile, Michael Dunkley urged those against the redevelopment project to “exercise their democratic right in the appropriate way”. “I urge anyone who is interested to come out and listen to the proceedings, and anyone who is not comfortable with the two pieces of legislation to exercise their democratic right in the appropriate way,” Mr Dunkley said. “We live in a vibrant democracy, and Members should be allowed to get in to the House and do what they have to do. Let’s have the debate in the House, where it should be happening.” At yesterday’s press conference, Mr Furbert said that the country was at “a crossroads” as he called on the “silent majority” to gather at Union Square in Hamilton at 8am today. Asked if he had given any instructions to union members about whether or not to allow MPs to get into the House, he replied: “I have not given them any instructions. I have called on everyone to show up and at that point we will give people instructions about what they are going to do.” Mr Furbert insisted that the House of Assembly grounds belonged to the “people of this country” and added: “People should have the right to protest freely.” Asked if he believed MPs should be allowed into the House this morning to debate the airport legislation, he replied: “Our position has always been that MPs should have access to the House if they are doing the people’s business. The airport legislation is not the people’s business because they do not have the people’s mandate for it.” Mr Furbert encouraged parents to bring their children and told the media that he would be taking his teenage daughter out of school tomorrow so “she can witness history”. Mr Furbert dismissed reports in this newspaper that he suggested there was strong support for the airport redevelopment plan. He also rejected the findings of the Blue Ribbon Panel, which yesterday concluded that the airport project was a good deal for the country. “The panel was appointed by the Minister of Finance; as a result it was going to get the result he was looking for,” Mr Furbert said. The president of the BIU said: “Bermuda has to be the laughing stock of the world that we are now having someone build a new airport for us, and we are going to have someone else run it for the next 30 years.” He added: “When will we get a chance to run the airport for ourselves? Bermuda should be incensed by this deal. Are we being set up to fail? This should be a concern to every construction worker in the country.” Asked if there would be disruption to public services, Mr Furbert replied: “I cannot say whether there will be any public disruption at the moment; we will be holding another meeting at 5.30pm.” By the time this paper went to press no additional information had been provided about potential public services disruption.
2017. February 9. An independent panel has given the thumbs up to the airport redevelopment deal. The Blue Ribbon Panel, tasked by the Bermuda Government to probe documents surrounding the proposed project, announced its decision at a press conference yesterday afternoon. Chairman Malcolm Butterfield said: “The Blue Ribbon Panel has found that this transaction is commercially sound and reasonable and likely to meet the Government’s stated objectives of long-term sustainability and increased traffic volume and revenue. We have also found that its terms are within the parameters of similar P3 airport projects and in some cases this project exceeds those norms positively.” However, the Blue Ribbon Panel acknowledged that the “entire project would have benefited from clearer disclosure of the transaction, its terms and the participants at a much earlier stage”. Mr Butterfield said that the panel had concluded that the 30-year term of the project was “reasonable and consistent with similar projects”. He added: “Overall, the panel’s views is that this is a good deal. It’s not perfect.” In recent days, the Progressive Labour Party has complained that its MPs has not had access to the financial model behind the agreement, although finance minister Bob Richards has argued divulging the financial model would not put politicians in any better position to assess the project’s value for Bermuda, and that the information contained in the model was “not Government’s to give”. Asked if the panel would have benefited from seeing the financial model for the project, Mr Butterfield said: “No, that would not have benefited us. We had volumes of material and a lot of it was the financial information.” He told the press conference that it would have been “unusual” for the financial model of the project to be shared in the public domain before it was completed. Mr Butterfield said the panel concluded that the approach of the Government to enter into a negotiated agreement instead of a competitive tendering was “reasonable” and he also rejected questions that had previously been raised about the panel’s independence. “There is no doubt in my mind that this was an independent panel,” he said. “There was no influence from Government. It was independent in every way.” The panel met with several opponents of the airport development plan over the last three weeks, including Chris Furbert, president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, and David Burt, the leader of the opposition, Mr Butterfield said: “It should be noted that our analysis has revealed the challenges associated with this project. “Legitimate concerns have been expressed as to the process, the representations made to Parliament and the people of Bermuda and the significant opportunity transferred to a private company for an extended period of time.” The panel was unveiled last month by Mr Richards, and tasked to review the controversial airport redevelopment project. It was given access to the Project Agreement and “any other documentation related to the transaction so that it may form its independent view of whether the deal is reasonable and fair”. It looked at documentation related to the transaction, the Bermuda Government’s legal, financial, technical, and project management advisers, senior representatives of the Canadian Commercial Corporation and Aecon Concessions. The panel was chaired by Mr Butterfield, a retired managing director at KPMG, and included Craig Simmons, economics senior lecturer at the Bermuda College, Gil Tucker, retired chairman of Ernst & Young Ltd, Barclay Simmons, a managing partner of ASW Law and chairman of Butterfield Bank, Anthony Joaquin, retired partner of Ernst & Young and chairman of HSBC Bermuda, and Caroline Foulger, retired partner of PwC.
Panel’s key findings
2017. February 9. Building a new airport terminal is “unequivocally the best way” to deal with the problems at the ageing present facility, according to Aaron Adderley, general manager at the Department of Airport Operations. “I can only speak from an operations standpoint,” Mr Adderley added, closing his appearance before the Public Accounts Committee yesterday as the group continued to review the proposed redevelopment at LF Wade International Airport. However, analyst Larry Burchall delivered a grim assessment of the island’s economic predicament and the “rosy” tourism arrivals projections given by Aecon, the Bermuda Government’s Canadian partner in the deal for a new terminal. Mr Burchall emphasized that the project would take away $37 million in “desperately” needed revenue, while gambling on an unlikely revival of tourism. Mr Adderley appeared before the PAC first alongside Wendell Burchall, manager of maintenance and engineering for the airport, to provide a breakdown of the $184 million cost attached to renovating the existing terminal. Assessing the cost of overhauling the terminal while relocating services, Mr Burchall said he “did not see anything whatsoever in trying to renovate”. Mr Adderley cautioned that figures for the money generated by the facility were “somewhat overstated”, given that austerity measures did not reflect the true level of expenditure needed: the DAO should have 44 members of staff, he said, but operated with 32. “I’ve had staff in and out of hospital for stress-related issues; I’ve had staff going into hospital with two legs and coming out with one — we are very stressed.” Both PAC chairman Wayne Furbert and Progressive Labour Party MP Michael Weeks spoke favorably of “rolling renovations” at the existing terminal to provide local jobs, keep airport revenue at home, and potentially renovate the Causeway across Castle Harbour, as an alternative to the Government’s public-private partnership with Aecon. Mr Burchall, meanwhile, appeared as “a taxpayer and interested Bermudian”, telling the PAC he had no political axe to grind. Government’s debt burden and struggles to raise revenue, combined with a falling Bermudian population and moribund tourism, created “a morass of problems while we are all fussing about the airport”. Foreign workers in low-echelon jobs took positions that Bermudians could fill, while high-end workers created jobs — “and the job creators are not coming”. Mr Burchall said Aecon had predicated the deal on “a healthy, rosy picture of tourist numbers coming to Bermuda going up and up for 30 years” — but pointed out that “the base case revenue guarantee means that if the rosy picture does not come true, we make up the difference.” The island’s revival depended on wooing foreign workers back to Bermuda, Mr Burchall said, but the Government had failed in communicating that urgency to ordinary Bermudians mistrustful of overseas workers during an economic recession. And he likened present efforts to the attempts by passers-by to revive him last month after he collapsed in the street from cardiac arrest. Passer-by Rick Means had noticed people wiping the blood from his forehead, but checked his pulse and gave the CPR that saved his life, Mr Burchall told the committee. “He asked the right question. I lived,” Mr Burchall said. “This Government is like the bystander — mopping up the blood.”
2017. February 7. Opposition MPs are still yet to review the financial model behind the airport development agreement, according to David Burt, leader of the Progressive Labour Party. “The fact that it continues to be withheld makes me believe they don’t want the people to see it,” Mr Burt said, of the item known as schedule 29, which he said would mark “an integral part of Parliament’s understanding of the ramifications to this deal”. The Project Agreement for the new terminal at LF Wade International Airport was first released to MPs on January 29, with Mr Burt on that occasion criticizing the non-disclosure of details, including the financial model. A debate looms in Parliament this Friday on the creation of the Bermuda Airport authority, as well as the concessions required for the development. That debate was postponed from last week by Randy Horton, the Speaker of the House, to give MPs more time to examine the agreement. The two Acts were first scheduled for debate on December 2, when protests stopped Parliament from proceeding, and a heavy police presence accompanied last Friday’s session, when the House of Assembly resumed with the airport legislation passed over. Mr Burt said yesterday that he had been informed by the minister that “the information is confidential” — despite the financial model contained in schedule 29 being referenced at several points in the Project Agreement. The Royal Gazette was unable to reach Mr Richards, who is overseas, for clarification. However, the minister told ZBM that divulging the financial model would not put MPs in any better position to assess the project’s value for Bermuda — and said that the information contained in the model was “not Government’s to give”. Mr Richards said the model covered the “basic internal calculations” of Bermuda Skyport Corporation, the entity that would operate the new airport terminal. “It’s not owned by Government,” the minister added. A town hall meeting has been called 7pm today by the PLP, with the project to be discussed with the public at Dellwood Middle School — at which Mr Burt will join a panel including Shadow Minister for Transport Lawrence Scott. The Opposition leader declined to discuss any direction to his MPs in anticipation of Friday’s debate, saying 24 hours added up to a long time in politics. “We’re going to remain in the same place we were in the run-up to December 2,” he said, referring to the last time the Acts were set for debate. “If we have a public-private partnership, that means MPs should be aware of how much the private partner stands to profit by way of transferring revenues.” The minister has stated in the past that the partner company would be able to divide revenues for the new terminal “50-50” with the Government after recouping an initial dividend of $63 million on the project. Mr Burt said MPs would be unable to ascertain the Government’s responsibility in the matter without seeing in detail “what profits this company is going to make of public assets”.
2017. February 4. Negotiations entailed in the airport redevelopment ran up a tab of $4.1 million to the Government’s law firm, Bennett Jones. But Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, said the bill would have been higher if a request for proposal had been issued for the deal. “It’s a big bill,” Mr Richards conceded after written answers were given to parliamentary questions from Opposition leader David Burt. “It’s spread over three years and I daresay it’s a one-off.” The fees were paid between January 1, 2014 and January 31 this year, totaling $4,144,333 — an aggregate sum paid to Bennett Jones LLP in Canada and the company’s Bermuda branch. “There is nobody in the Government or the Bermuda legal fraternity with this expertise and experience — they have a lot of experience with P3 type transactions,” the minister said, referring to the public-private partnership underpinning the project with Canadian Commercial Corporation and Aecon. “They had their office here as well as the connection with Canada, but most importantly they have deep experience with these types of deals.” He added: “It’s a complex project. A lot of people think we went in there and just shook hands but there was a lot of negotiations and a lot of it was in legalese, so we had to have lawyers acting on our behalf.” Mr Richards has said in the past that the Government proceeded with its initial deal with CCC on the assumption, backed by Bennett Jones, that no permission was required from the British Government. The deal was approved by Cabinet in July 2014, announced that November, and a letter of entrustment received in July 2015. Asked about the legal bill, Mr Richards said there had been “a great deal of difficulty with the UK over the entrustment documents. There was a long period of negotiation with the UK Government, and it required a lot of legal opinion and help with negotiations, which of course nobody figured we would have to do. This was not part of what we expected. It hung us up for almost a year, and during that time we had to use the expertise that Bennett Jones had to move the ball farther, so we got nailed with more legal expenses than expected. I think we still saved money than if we had gone by the RFP route. We would have had all the lawyers for that, plus public consultants.” The written response provided to this newspaper in Parliament included details on the company’s rates. Bennett Jones’s fees were discounted by 20 per cent when originally proposed as part of the firm’s public sector discount. Effective February 1, 2015, the firm voluntarily cut their rates a further 10 per cent after the Government called for “increased financial austerity”, the reply said. Monthly accounts are accompanied by a “very detailed” docket describing the firm’s services in such detail that they are “highly confidential”, and the firm vets its accounts for “errors and inefficient time”. The ministry’s response added that the legal fees are assessed each month by the general manager at the Department of Airport Operations, as well as the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Tourism, Transport and Municipalities, before being paid.
2017. February 3. Chartered accountant Craig Mayor, a persistent critic of the airport redevelopment project, returned to the Public Accounts Committee yesterday, saying the Bermuda Government’s “methodology is nonsense, and the results are nonsense”. Meanwhile, the committee agreed to a motion to summon Aaron Adderley, the head of the Department of Airport Operations, if he should decline to appear before the PAC’s sitting next week. Wayne Furbert, the chairman of the committee, said the group wanted Mr Adderley to give a breakdown of spending to maintain the present terminal — as well as to explain “why we can’t just fix the roof”. Mr Mayor told the PAC that the Government had failed to look at the incremental costs for a new terminal, which he said would run at $787 million. Thus, the Government model of $580 million had erred by more than $200 million by failing in basic accounting, he said, telling the PAC: “It’s a rule. Don’t be puzzled by it.” However, he faced scepticism from committee members Susan Jackson and Leah Scott, with Ms Jackson calling it “a fairytale” presentation — and Ms Scott telling him: “I’m not an accountant, but I don’t agree with your analysis.” Mr Furbert defended Mr Mayor’s numbers as conservative and deriving from the Government’s own figures. Mr Mayor told the PAC that the island’s economic position was too precarious to proceed with the proposal, suggesting the present terminal could be renovated and protected with an enhanced berm that would keep it viable for 30 years at just $44 million in actual cost. An audience member handed in a written question asking: “Surely the Minister of Finance has worked extensively in finance markets, and CCC and Aecon have also operated at the highest level of global finance — what explains this abandonment of what you describe as proper methodology?” Mr Mayor said the figures had been prepared by the ministry and not its Canadian partners in the proposal.
2017. February 2. Opinion, by Wendell Hollis and Andrew Outerbridge. "We write, not on behalf of any particular party, cause or group, but as two Bermudian professionals who have worked in our respective professions for more than 40 years, have a great love for our island and are deeply concerned for its future. Michael Dunkley, the Premier, has written that the present proposal for the construction of Bermuda’s new airport by Aecon, a Canadian company backed by the Canadian Government, is “the right deal at the right time for the right reasons”. We took him at his word, looked at the plans and then took the virtual tour through the proposed new airport that the Government provided. During that tour, we did not feel in any way that we were in Bermuda. We felt like we were in one of the many too easily forgotten Middle American or Canadian provincial airports that function well but were built to serve only one purpose, which was to transit passengers from the ground to the air and back as efficiently as possible. There was no sense or feel of Bermuda in the airport; either on the outside or the inside. Bermuda is in the tourism business and the tea leaves of geopolitical events indicate that we may need to grow and recharge this business merely to survive. The airport is the first impression that a tourist gets of Bermuda and the last impression they have upon departing. The right airport would be one designed to inject the spirit of Bermuda into them upon arrival and leave that spirit with them on departure. The planned airport before us does not do either. Unlike the new hospital, the Government did not come up with a concept and then go to the people for approval. In the case of the hospital, the first concept was not accepted by the people and withdrawn. When the new concept was accepted, the Government of the day decided to build it on the public-private partnership basis in the same way as this government proposes to have this airport built. Wendell Hollis was deputy chairman of the Bermuda Hospitals Board at that time and the BHB was determined that it would not be subject to criticism on — or an inquiry into — how the process of the building of the new hospital would be carried out. The BHB decided to engage KPMG, one of the world’s top four accounting firms, to advise it every step of the way. Ironically, KPMG appointed Malcolm Butterfield, chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee just put together to review and justify the figures for the new airport, to be its liaison officer for the hospital project. Butterfield advised that the process should start with a request for proposals. So an RFP was formulated under KPMG’s guidance and issued to the world of finance and construction. More than ten international consortiums with Bermudian participation entered the bidding process. Their proposals included designing, building, financing and maintaining the new hospital. Under the watchful eye and scrutiny of KPMG, those proposals were reduced to five, then to three and finally down to the successful bidder. At each step of the way, the BHB made the final decision under the review of KPMG, which issued and signed an opinion that all was above board and that the process was handled with absolute fairness. Bermuda got the new hospital that it needed and that it wanted. The design before us now is not the airport that we need or want. It is too large and thereby too expensive — and it is not Bermudian. We have examined the plans and taken the time and effort, at personal cost, to come up with a design that is Bermudian and more in scale with what Bermuda needs. As can be seen from the drawings accompanying this opinion, it looks like an airport that “we would be proud to be Bermudian”. We took the initiative to create an alternate design in the image of what was felt more appropriate, thus giving Bermudians a chance to take pause and reflect on this decision and its long-term implications with a visual image. We feel that it is undeniable that Bermuda needs a new airport. It is unfortunate that many Bermudians are left feeling railroaded and frustrated, with an overwhelming sense of a lack of transparency that gives rise to suspicion. Bermuda has an iconic cultural heritage, with our unique and readily identifiable Bermudian architecture, which is part of our DNA, and it seems a matter of common sense that it should be incorporated and reflected in our national airport. We have taken the initiative to draft up a set of conceptual drawings of what a Bermuda airport should look and feel like. The accompanying rendering is but one of them. We feel that it is incumbent on all Bermudians to take an active and participatory role in determining our future, and the airport should be one where both consensus and national interest take precedence over the immediacy of political expediency. We wish to confirm that it is not our intent or will to make a political statement on the matter, but rather to take a practical second look at the proposed development to ensure that we are going down the right path without compromise. The proposed facility is massive in size, and past experience has taught us that bigger is not necessarily better — and it costs a lot more. Thoughtful Bermudian design that incorporates common sense, tried and tested Bermudian building practices and sensible systems that are operationally simple and easy to maintain, replace or repair are the main ingredients that should go into this project. Our design is not intended to be the solution, but a reflection of the direction in which many feel we should be going before it is too late. However, on Tuesday evening, the Minister of Finance was quoted as saying: “The train has already left the station.” That is sad. Our plans present Bermudian rooflines based on an easily expandable, repetitive grid system designed for planned expansion as required in the future. The plans incorporate modern airport function and design, with a forward-thinking look that includes significant elements of our heritage. The front entry, for example, might be an 80ft by 80ft area with a tubular steel structure in the shape of a Bermuda buttery roof soaring up and giving both a strong sense of openness and a nod to our heritage. Passengers would know and feel that they were in the “Bermuda Airport” rather than some nondescript entity. This design is also 25 per cent smaller than the proposed facility, resulting in nearly $100 million in savings. We would ask Bermudians to think about what vision they want to see rather than the Aecon vision, which is better suited for elsewhere and wholly inapplicable to our island. Now is the time to make that decision and it should be driven by one very simple test: what is best for Bermuda and Bermudians now and in the future?
Alternative plan proposed by the above
2017. February 1. Chartered accountant Craig Mayor will give a presentation about the airport redevelopment to the Public Accounts Committee tomorrow. Mr Mayor, who has heavily criticised the Bermuda Government for its proposals over LF Wade International Airport, has been invited to speak about the financial impact at the public hearing at St Paul’s Church Centennial Hall, at 2.30pm. The PAC, chaired by Progressive Labour Party MP Wayne Furbert, is authorised by the House of Assembly to closely examine and report on matters relating to the accounts of the Government and, in particular, to investigate findings reported by the Auditor-General.
2017. February 1. David Burt, the Leader of the Opposition, has hit back at Bob Richards over the finance minister’s criticism of his approach to the airport redevelopment project. Mr Richards condemned Mr Burt’s constant criticism of the project and urged him to “get focused on the project not the politics so we can move Bermuda forward”. This afternoon Mr Burt responded to Mr Richards’s comments. “Bermuda’s Parliament is being asked to give approval to the airport redevelopment project and it is imperative that the entire Project Agreement is made available for review,” Mr Burt said. “I would remind the Minister of Finance that it would be impossible for parliament to give proper scrutiny to this deal without viewing the Financial Model for this ‘Public Private Partnership. MPs have received all Project Agreement schedules except for Schedule 29, which contains the Financial Model. The figures contained in the Financial Model are referenced numerous times in the Project Agreement specifically regarding the commitments of Bermudian taxpayers. This isn’t about politics; it is about basic transparency and respect for the role of Parliament as the people’s representatives. This is the first time in Bermuda’s modern history that we have ever privatized the operation of a major asset. There is a reason this agreement needs Parliament’s approval and that is because, unlike the hospital project, it diverts revenue from Government coffers to a private company who will operate the airport. MPs cannot be asked to give consent to an agreement they haven’t seen. Therefore, I again implore the Government and Aecon to live up to their commitments to transparency and share the entire Project Agreement. I specifically request that Minister Richards honour his public commitment to provide the Financial Model so that MPs can have a fully informed debate.”
2017. January 31. Chris Furbert, president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, emphasized at a press conference this afternoon that no meetings had been held to determine whether a protest would take place regarding Government’s airport development project. Parliament is set to reconvene this Friday, with two pieces of legislation relating to the project to go before MPs. The debate has been on hold for two months in the wake of protests by the People’s Campaign group, which culminated in a clash with police at the entrance to Sessions House. Asked if the BIU planned to hold a general council meeting before Friday, Mr Furbert said the decision lay with the executive board to call one tomorrow or on Thursday “if they’re interested”. He would not comment in his People’s Campaign capacity. Mr Furbert accused Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, of a “completely false” statement when he said the Government had been transparent and collaborative on the transaction. “The only reason why the minister has decided to be a bit transparent is because of the challenges from the People’s Campaign, the PLP, Move and the protest that took place on December 2,” Mr Furbert said — questioning the assertion by Mr Richards that MPs would not be voting for “for or against the project”. The union head also disputed Mr Richards’ statement that all options had been considered — and charged that business organisation had only supported the airport development because it had been put forward by a One Bermuda Alliance administration. Mr Furbert took issue with a range of recent statements by both Mr Richards and Michael Dunkley, the Premier. He also noted statements in 2009, when Mr Richards was the Shadow Minister of Finance, in which he was highly critical of public-private partnerships in the context of the new acute care wing for King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, saying they generally added extra cost and there was “no such thing as a free lunch”. Mr Furbert charged that, while the Government had defended the airport PPP as a way of avoiding adding debt, “the OBA Government has doubled debt in four years”.
2017. January 31. Parliament’s debate on two pieces of legislation pertaining to the airport redevelopment project has been postponed by one week, according to Randy Horton, the Speaker of the House. MPs were due to return to the House of Assembly on Friday, taking up the legislation that was suspended on December 2 after protesters blocked the gates of Sessions House. Parliament will indeed resume on Friday, Mr Horton said, but will proceed with other legislation, allowing MPs extra time “to read through and consider the Draft Project Agreement in advance of the debate”. Mr Horton said that he had hosted a discussion yesterday between Bob Richards, the Acting Premier and Minister of Finance, and David Burt, the Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister of Finance. He said the aim was to “chart a way forward for debate on the Airport Development Concession Act 2016 and the Bermuda Airport Authority Act 2016”. Mr Horton added: “Both pieces of legislation relate to the redevelopment of LF Wade International Airport. The Government, Canadian Commercial Corporation and Aecon have agreed to release and to provide hard copies of the Draft Project Agreement to all parliamentarians in advance of the legislation’s debate in the House of Assembly.” That debate is now set for February 10, allowing MPs “sufficient time”. The move means that the Budget Statement has been pushed back a week to February 24, with the Opposition now expected on March 3. Since the Budget must be approved by March 31, the Committee of Supply debate may have an extra session to meet that deadline, Mr Horton said. “We look forward to healthy, robust and respectful debate when the House resumes its business on Friday,” he said. It came not long after a police press conference to address the possibility of protests on Friday was cancelled. The announcement came as a police press conference on any protests to be held on Friday was cancelled. Meanwhile, David Burt, Leader of the Opposition, said that Progressive Labour Party MPs had not received “critical financial details” about the project despite assurances from Mr Richards. He reiterated calls for full disclosure of all contract details before the debate in the House. Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance and Acting Premier, said the rescheduling would allow Opposition MPs more time to review documents related to the project, but challenged the criticism of the Opposition. “Despite this unprecedented level of transparency, the Opposition Leader continues to cry foul even though he is in possession of virtually every detail of the draft agreement and relevant project information,” he said. “I would simply urge him to get focused on the project, not the politics, so we can move Bermuda forward. The decision to reschedule the debate to February 10 followed a series of meetings this week and last with the Speaker and the Opposition Leader to calm community tensions before the resumption of Parliament.”
2017. Sunday, January 29. The Airport Project Agreement has now been released to all MPs, according to Bob Richards. Speaking this evening, the Minister of Finance said that he did not regret the decision not to release the document sooner, calling the release “highly unusual. The normal course of business is to keep contracts confidential,” he said. “We agreed to release it under a non-disclosure agreement to the Blue Ribbon Panel, and they accepted that. We tried to do that with the Public Accounts Committee and the Leader of the Opposition [David Burt], but they didn't accept that. The executives from CCC and Aecon didn't want people to think they were hiding anything, and they have nothing to hide, so they spoke to me and they said they would release these, even though it is highly unusual.” He added that the documents were released without a non-disclosure agreement, meaning that those who received them could discuss the information contained. However he maintained that all of the material points of the agreement had already been released to the public. Mr Burt this evening confirmed that the PLP received eight copies of the airport agreement on Saturday without signing a non-disclosure agreement, but that not all of the necessary information was included. “Sadly, the documents provided to us are missing critical financial information on the minimum revenue guarantee, revenue sharing and the financial model,” Mr Burt said. “When questioned by me earlier today on live radio, Mr Richards stated that he was unaware the financial details were missing, but made assurances that the Opposition would be provided with this crucial information. The PLP looks forward to the receipt of these figures in a timely fashion. Until this information is received, MPs will not be able to give this 30-year privatization agreement the scrutiny that a modern democracy demands. These developments are a partial victory for democracy and transparency, but the people's representatives still require the full financial details before we can assure voters that MPs are fully aware of the agreement they are being asked to approve.”
2017. January 28. Opposition leader David Burt and the Public Accounts Committee have rejected an opportunity to view the Project Agreement for the airport redevelopment project, according to finance minister Bob Richards. In a statement yesterday, Mr Richards said the Bermuda Government had offered them copies of the document on Tuesday, following repeated accusations of a lack of transparency. He said they declined the invitation two days later. That allegation drew a strong rebuttal last night from Mr Burt, who said the offer came with “conditions which are wholly unacceptable if we are to be completely transparent”. The requirement that Mr Burt and the PAC sign a non-disclosure agreement would “defeat the democratic process” by allowing only certain MPs to have sight of the agreement, Mr Burt said. Wayne Furbert, the chairman of the PAC, insisted he had not been included in the invitation and dismissed Mr Richards’ statement as “absolute lies”. Mr Richards stated that by “proactively” releasing the agreement to the PAC, members would be put at ease and “misleading” statements reduced. However, permission would have been required from partners Canadian Commercial Corporation and Aecon, since the document contained would be subject to non-disclosure. “It remains a confidential draft document, which cannot be final until the transaction closes,” Mr Richards said. The conditions would have been similar to those placed on the Blue Ribbon Panel tasked with assessing the project. In response, Mr Burt told The Royal Gazette that he had been called to a meeting on Monday of this week by Speaker of the House Randy Horton, along with Michael Dunkley, aimed at “trying to find consensus on a way forward” over the airport project. Since then, I have been in communication with the Premier, and I have been doing whatever necessary to keep it out of the press. The PLP have been consistent in pressing to ensure that all MPs have access to complete information so that an informed decision can be made in parliament. For this statement to be issued shows that the Premier and the OBA are playing divisive politics on this issue. It’s a very dangerous game. I have placed two calls to the Premier and I await his explanation. It’s disappointing that the Premier, who so often says that we have to act in a more mature fashion, would issue this statement without responding to our latest written communication. It misrepresents our position and it is regrettable that the OBA are unwilling to build consensus to reduce the understandable tensions on this issue.” Meanwhile, Mr Furbert said he had not been contacted. He added that “if Mr Richards says we have, that’s absolute lies. Bob has misled the country. He has not approached me as chair.” Asked whether he would examine the agreement if given the chance, Mr Furbert said: “The PAC has to be able to look at it thoroughly, bringing in people to talk to like we do with any other issue. We would want to do exactly what the PAC does.” Mr Richards said no other developments, including the hospital wing, the courts building and the Berkeley Institute project, had attracted as much attention, or led to the release of so much detail, as the airport project. “Opposition critics have repeatedly pressed for unheard of disclosures, before the Government was even in a position to release such information. Yet by making this offer this week, we took transparency to another level.” He noted Parliament is set to debate two Bills related to the project. Mr Richards said that the debate would not amount to a vote on either the project or its agreement: one Bill provides for creating a Bermuda Airport Authority, staffed by locals and answering to the Government, to oversee operation. He explained: “The second Bill exempts the project’s operating company from specific taxes and charges for a period that allows for upgrades, maintenance and operation of the old terminal building and related airport functions; and the creation and eventual operation and maintenance of the new terminal building and related airport functions.” Mr Richards said “voluminous” supporting details were available online, including the entrustment report, the assessments by Deloitte Ltd and a value-for-money report from Steer Davies Gleave. He also pointed to support from the Bermuda Hotel Association, the global body Airports Council International, and the Construction Association of Bermuda. Mr Richards said several independent advisers had been retained, including CIBC and the local and Canadian branches of the law firm Bennett Jones; consultants LeighFisher, HNTB and Steer Davies Gleave, and KPMG in Bermuda and Canada.
2017. January 27. Seven Bermudians have been offered paid internships with the partners on the proposed airport redevelopment. They will work at Aecon with members of its technical team in Canada, after being chosen by a panel of interviewers from Aecon and the Department of Workforce Development. The interns will be paid by Aecon, with travel, room and board paid by Workforce Development. According to a press release from Aecon Group Inc, the Bermuda Government and the Department of Workforce Development, they are:
The interns will spend four to five days each week with their host company working on tasks specifically related to the airport redevelopment project. They will each be assigned a mentor who will help them to create and complete an individual development plan throughout the programme and to ensure that they get everything they can out of the programme. On completion of the internships, the interns will receive feedback on their development and goals and a certificate of achievement from Aecon. The programme will run for six months from early 2017 and will be based in Toronto. Home affairs minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin said: “This internship programme with Aecon and its partners is an incredible opportunity and is just one of the many benefits that the Airport Redevelopment Project will bring to our island. I would like to congratulate the seven interns chosen by the selection committee, all of whom have proven that they are committed to building Bermuda’s future.” Steve Nackan, president of Aecon Concessions, said: “These interns will receive a once-in-a-lifetime experience with Aecon and its technical partners in the fields of construction and infrastructure. This programme is just one of the ways in which we are committed to Bermuda, not only its airport, but also its people. We look forward to sharing our knowledge with these graduates.” Frank Ross, executive adviser of Aecon Group Inc, said: “We were fortunate to have so many excellent candidates for the internship programme, which, of course, made it a very difficult decision. However, the seven graduates chosen are exceptional and we look forward to working and sharing this experience with them. We thank all applicants for their interest and encourage them to apply for other opportunities in the project.” Bianca Clay, one of the interns, said: “I’m very excited to have been chosen to work in Canada — it’s an incredible opportunity. To be a part of the airport redevelopment project is to be a part of a legacy. The airport leaves a lasting first and last impression to those visiting and it’s important that Bermudians are able to contribute to it.”
2017. January 11. Confidential documents not previously shared with Parliament will come under the scrutiny of a team reviewing the airport redevelopment project, finance minister Bob Richards has announced. At a press conference this afternoon, Mr Richards revealed retired KPMG partner Malcolm Butterfield will chair the group, which will also include economist Craig Simmons; Gil Tucker and Anthony Joaquin, both formerly of Ernst & Young; Butterfield Bank chairman Barclay Simmons; Caroline Foulger, a former partner at PwC. They will produce their conclusions before the end of this month. Asked if the group would have a budget, the minister said: “They are not being paid — they are doing this out of public service.” Mr Richards told the press conference: “This Blue Ribbon Panel will provide an additional independent evaluation of the Airport Redevelopment Project as to whether the option chosen is the best one or Bermuda, given the realities facing the island.”
2016. December 27. Senator Michael Fahy has claimed Opposition leader David Burt is attempting to “deceive the community” over the controversial airport redevelopment project. Mr Burt has called on the Bermuda Government to publicly release the “lease, master assignment and consent agreement, and the domestic contract” in advance of the February 3 debate. However, a spokeswoman for the Airport Redevelopment Project Team said today that the master assignment and consent agreement contemplated at the airport development agreement stage had been dispensed with early in the process in favour of a more streamlined contractual structure. The spokeswoman added that the lease had not yet been finalized and remained in draft form. “In any event, the lease is a fairly mechanical document by which the project company obtains access to the airport lands as required to operate and maintain it,” the spokeswoman added. Mr Fahy, the Minister of Tourism, Transport and the Municipalities said this afternoon: “It is hard to imagine why Mr Burt would even suggest that the absence of these particular two documents should be cause to launch a protest aimed at thwarting Bermuda’s democratic process. It is clear that Mr Burt is attempting to deceive the community with his absurd stance to push his own narrow political agenda. It is frankly dangerous and unacceptable.” Mr Burt said: “The Government’s criticism regarding the PLP’s insistence for the disclosure of the project agreement and applicable contract details is a poor attempt to distract from the fact that Bermudians remain in the dark about the details of the OBA’s Airport privatization. Our reasonable and consistent view remains that MPs must be aware of the commitments of the Government of Bermuda over the next 30 years prior to any debate. We reiterate our position that the Auditor General should review this project in advance to provide MPs and the public with an independent assessment of the total impact that this 30-year airport privatization will have on the public purse.”
2016. December 21. Police and politicians may face another protest on February 3 when the controversial airport redevelopment plan comes up for debate in the House of Assembly. Comments posted on social media yesterday suggest a second demonstration is in the pipeline, with the same aim as the one held on December 2: to prevent Parliament from sitting and MPs debating and approving legislation on the airport. Former Progressive Labour Party senator and union activist LaVerne Furbert wrote on Facebook: “I’m hoping that the debate will not be held, by any means necessary.” Ms Furbert posted her comment as part of a thread discussing the Government’s plan to bring two Bills key to the airport deal to the House when it reconvenes for the first time in the new year. She added: “The outcome of the debate will be that the OBA can go ahead with their plan to give the airport away. That’s why we need to stop the debate. That’s my opinion.” On a different thread, discussing criticism of the airport plan by political commentators Larry Burchall and Craig Mayor, Ms Furbert wrote: “The upcoming debate, if it’s held, it’s not a high school debating contest where one team will be declared the winner. If the Bill goes to Parliament, it will be passed by the OBA, simply because they have the numbers. Most of us understand that, hence the protest on December 2, 2016. Trust me, there are those of us who are willing to put our feet in the street again in February. By any means necessary, the airport development project should be put on hold.” Ms Furbert works for the Bermuda Industrial Union and is a member of the People’s Campaign, a vocal protest group which managed to derail the Government’s plans for immigration reform earlier this year and has been vehemently opposed to the airport deal. The December 2 protest against the airport, which saw police in riot helmets pepper-spraying the crowd as protesters blocked entry to the House, was promoted by the PLP. Opposition leader David Burt urged supporters in an e-mail the day before to “stand strong for Bermuda’s future and join us at the House of Assembly ... at 9am to let the OBA know that they cannot move forward with this secret deal without having an independent review by the Auditor-General”. The PLP’s press secretary did not respond to an e-mail yesterday asking if the party was involved in the planning of a protest for February 3 or whether Mr Burt advocated barring entry to Parliament. It was not possible to reach Ms Furbert by telephone. Michael DeSilva, the Commissioner of Police, did not respond to questions about the Bermuda Police Service’s plan for February 3 by press time, nor did Michael Dunkley, the Premier. Jeff Baron, Minister of National Security, said: “The right to lawful assembly and peaceful protest is protected by the Constitution. Where offences are committed, however, the Bermuda Police Service is responsible for enforcing the laws of the land. Planning for any action when the House resumes is among the many operational responsibilities of the Commissioner of Police and his senior command and that process does not involve the Ministry of National Security.”
2016. December 20. Legislators are expected to debate two Acts key to the airport development plans on February 3 — the first day of Parliament after protesters against the project blocked the House of Assembly on December 2. Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, confirmed yesterday that the Airport Authority Act and the Airport Redevelopment Concession Act would go up for debate when Parliament resumes in 2017. “We will continue to reach out to the Bermudian public and further inform them of the specifics of this project,” Mr Richards told The Royal Gazette. "Many people still feel that they don’t have enough information. The truth is there has been an information overload, and people are having trouble combing through all the data. We are going to assist them in that regard.” Mr Richards was speaking in the wake of a rebuttal to the latest critique of the proposal, issued on December 19 by commentator Larry Burchall with chartered accountant Craig Mayor. “Their commentary and analysis is reverse engineered to lead to a predetermined conclusion,” said Mr Richards, saying the report was “replete with errors and presents a flawed analysis of the project”. The two had issued a summary on December 15 of an 11-page document sent to all MPs, along with the Auditor-General and the Acting Governor, ahead of December 2. Mr Richards said he had responded personally to their concerns and offered to provide further information, adding: “They have chosen, instead, to make public pronouncements on the project that totally ignore information already provided to them by the Government.” A 27-page response has been posted on the government portal, the minister said, rebutting each point raised.
2016. December 16. The biggest threat to Bermuda’s resurgent tourism industry is the island’s political environment, according to Bill Hanbury. The outgoing Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO was speaking as the latest November figures showed an 11th month of consecutive growth in the industry as well as a 52 per cent increase in air arrivals compared to last year. Mr Hanbury told The Royal Gazette there was no room for politics in tourism, and lamented the growing politicizing of the airport project. “There should be no politics in tourism; and it’s of great consternation to me that tourism has been so politicized in Bermuda,” he said. “It causes real damage and does not help anyone. Take the airport as an example; the politicizing of the airport is really a poor move across the board. The tourism economy needs a new airport; it is embarrassing to the country to have that airport. I am not here to say how it should get done, but whether or not it is labour unions, politicians, Government, the Opposition, people need to sit down and figure out how to build a new airport. We desperately need a new airport: we have no money to build it and someone is willing to build it for us; end of conversation; just build it. If someone else has a better idea, bring it on, but I don’t see anyone with a better idea. Until the politicians and the unions sit down and figure it out the only people they are hurting are their constituents by not building an airport.” The BTA boss maintained that the successful execution of next year’s America’s Cup would also be vital to the revival of the tourism industry. “We need to take full advantage of this. The Bermuda tourism product has places it could never of got to, with the America’s Cup. We need to make sure that when it is here, it’s all hands on deck to make it a stellar event. It will tax the country and people will be stressed out, but everyone has to step up and people will have to deal with the inconvenience to keep moving this economy in the right direction. It’s given us gravitas and it’s one of the reasons we have attracted other sporting events like regattas and triathlons. November marked the 11th month of consecutive growth in the tourism industry with an additional 3,600 air visitors, compared to November 2015. Air arrivals for the year-to-date are also up 16 per cent, or 21,800, compared to the first 11 months of 2015. Mr Hanbury described the latest figures as a “magnificent result. When I first saw the numbers, I had to look at them twice,” he said. “We are no longer cautiously optimistic, we are firmly optimistic about tourism prospects in Bermuda. This is the new normal, and we are not going back again. We must continue to build on this and the passing of legislation to allow rental minicars in Bermuda is a really positive development.” Over the course of his three years at the helm of the BTA, Mr Hanbury as well as his salary have come in for harsh criticism from Opposition MPs. But, he insists he did not take any of the insults personally. “I am not vindictive,” he said. “It’s always been about getting the job done for me. I did not lose a second’s sleep over the criticism, I knew we were going in the right direction.” Asked if he felt it was “mission accomplished” as he prepared to leave the BTA, he replied: “Not yet. We still need to get more done; we need to focus on continuing to grow this product and improve air arrivals and hotel occupancy. We cannot be satisfied with where we are.” Mr Hanbury’s last day in the CEO’s chair will be January 6, while his Bermudian successor Kevin Dallas, will start work officially on January 9. After helping to oversee the transition, Mr Hanbury will return home to upstate New York with his wife, Valerie. “I’m going to be doing some consulting work for a couple of destinations; none of them competitors to Bermuda,” he said. “I’m not looking forward to shoveling snow, but I am looking forward to sleeping in, once in a while. I will miss the BTA and Bermuda; it’s been a real honour and I have been blessed to wake up every morning and put people to work knowing it will have an effect on the island.” He added: “I have no regrets at all. We have accomplished great things. There is no destination in the world that has grown faster than us recently.”
2016. December 16. As noted yesterday, update, political commentators Craig Mayor and Larry Burchall have published an 11-page report/analysis outlining the reasons why the Government should not go ahead with their controversial airport project. The pair provided facts and figures to suggest that the Government had misinformed the public about the financial implications of the project. “The terminal that Government says will cost $540 million to build and operate over 30 years will, in fact, cost just under $1.4 billion or 2.5 times Government’s estimated cost,” they said. “Therefore, with a cost understatement of $810 million, all of Government’s financial analysis to justify the cost, business case, and economics is totally invalid. It makes no financial sense to pay $1.4 billion to build, finance, operate and maintain an AT, which Government purports will cost $267 million to construct. Under this scenario, Project Co will receive $1,083 million for financing, operating and maintaining the terminal, which is four times the construction cost of $267 million.” Mr Mayor and Mr Burchall believe the project “must be stopped immediately pending an independent investigation of the true costs and economic viability. Given the enormity of the error in Government’s costing of the project and the substantial demonstrations on Friday, December 2, it is in the best interests of the country for the Auditor-General to give an opinion on the $810 million cost understatement, and to do so as soon as possible. If confirmed, this should prevent further and continued waste of Government expenditure, suspend social unrest, and allow Government to focus on other issues. At $1.4 billion, and with only a short and small 40-month economic stimulus impact on Bermuda’s GDP and small and vague promises of employment for Bermudians, it is difficult to imagine how this project, as currently planned, can ever be justified.” The report has already been presented to all MPs, the Auditor-General, and Acting Governor.
2016. December 15. Political commentators Craig Mayor and Larry Burchall have published 11-page report/analysis which outlines the reasons why Government should not go ahead with their controversial airport project. It has already been presented to all MPs, the Auditor-General, and Acting Governor. The full statement, broken into various categories, reads as follows: Financial Analysis. Public and private sector capital projects are evaluated by comparing the amounts of cash invested with the amounts of cash returned. This simply answers the question “How much do I put in and what do I get back” This analysis is achieved by identifying cash expenditures and cash receipts over the life of the project. In the P3 with Project Co, it is clear that at the end of the concession Government will take back a 30-year-old Terminal. But what isn’t so clear to Government is how much Government will pay Project Co to design, duild, finance, operate and maintain [DBFOM] the Terminal over 30 years. There are two broad categories of cash expenditure that Government will incur for the project. Using 2016/17 estimates, they are: (i) Payments to operate the AT. These include annual expenses for the new quango, electricity subsidy, and retained airport services, such as security, fire & rescue, air traffic control, and meteorology. For Government these operating expenses are assumed to total $18m/year (as in the overview prepared for MPs.) (ii) Amounts paid to Project Co to DBFOM the AT. In this case Government will hand over all airport revenues, currently $37m/year and Project Co will assume approximately $10m/year of Government’s airport expenses. (iii On an aggregate basis Government will therefore hand over net revenues of $37m/year less $10m/year or $27m/year. In summary, over the 30 year concession the AT will cost: (i) Operating expenses: $18m per year, $540m over 30 years (ii) Net revenue payments to Project Co: $27m per year; $810m over 30 years. Total cost: $45m per year; $1,350m over 30 years. Government has properly included operating expenses of $18m/year but has erroneously omitted the payments to Project Co which total $27m/year or $810m over 30 years. It is important to note that the net revenues ($27m/year) will be adjusted for any payments under the revenue guarantee or any receipts under the Revenue Sharing agreement. Thus the actual net revenue payments of $27m/year could turn out to be higher or lower. Because these amounts cannot be ascertained with reasonable certainty they have rightly been excluded from Government’s cash flow analysis. By omitting the net revenue transfers to Project Co totalling $810m, Government is by definition saying Project Co will build and operate the AT for 30 years at no cost to Government. Clearly Project Co will not build and operate the AT for free and by omitting $810m in net revenues transferred to Project Co, Government’s cost analysis makes no economic sense. The terminal that Government says will cost $540m to build and operate over 30 years will, in fact, cost just under $1.4bn or 2.5 times Government’s estimated cost. Therefore, with a cost understatement of $810m, all of Government’s financial analysis to justify the cost, business case, and economics is totally invalid. It makes no financial sense to pay $1.4bn to build, finance, operate and maintain an AT which Government purports will cost $267m to construct. Under this scenario Project Co will receive $1,083m for financing, operating and maintaining the terminal, which is four times the construction cost of $267m.
2016. December 8. The debate on the controversial airport project has been delayed until February at least. Speaker of the House of Assembly Randy Horton announced that the House has been adjourned until Friday, February 3. It follows suggestions that protesters against the development, still angry about police action at last week’s demonstration, could have repeated their protest outside Sessions House tomorrow. Mr Horton said in a statement: “Last night I met with the Premier, Michael Dunkley, and the Opposition Leader, David Burt, to discuss my concerns relating to the protests which occurred last Friday outside the precincts of Sessions House. “As a result of that meeting, both the Premier and Opposition leader have agreed for the House to be adjourned until Friday, February 3, 2017. I look forward to working with both of them as we resolve this important national issue. I am also requesting a full public independent inquiry into the sequential events surrounding the recent protest.” David Burt, the leader of the Progressive Labour Party, said this afternoon that issues regarding the airport redevelopment legislation and the clash between police and protesters need to be resolved before Parliament resumes. “The PLP reiterates our call for a full, independent, public inquiry into why riot police were sent to confront peaceful protesters,” he said. “An inquiry is required so that we may obtain answers to the many questions that have arisen because of these actions. “These questions include the rumours that the Premier and members of his Cabinet were aware of such planned deployment and did nothing to stop it. This must be addressed so that the public’s confidence in the BPS to protect them, and not just the Government, can return. That same openness and transparency must be applied to the contract for the OBA’s proposed airport contract. This will only be possible through an independent and public review of the deal by the Auditor-General, which must proceed immediately and we will continue to press for this accountability.”
2016. December 8. Steve Nackan, Aecon Concessions president, has defended the decision not to put the airport project out to tender in a Canadian newspaper. Speaking to the Toronto Star, Mr Nackan said that the lack of tendering had been an element of contention with the controversial project. Such a process would not have worked in Bermuda due to its size, he said. He is quoted as saying: “It is very difficult in the airport market to tender a project on any airport that has less than a million passengers. Typically, those tenders are not viable or they fail.” Mr Nackan also told the newspaper that Aecon was selected because it was “essentially ideally suited to helping out with a project that needed both financing and construction services”, adding that the island does not have the capacity to borrow further to build the airport. On the subject of Bermudian jobs, he said that while Aecon would hold the lease for 30 years, the staff who work at the existing terminal would have jobs at the new terminal, and local labour would be used in the projects construction. He told the Toronto Star: “Fundamentally, the Bermudian people who currently operate their terminal will continue to operate it with support from us.” Mr Nackan further said the terminal would be state-of-the-art, describing it as “probably the most modern in the Americas”. The recently published article also noted the recent protests and the clash between demonstrators and police outside Sessions House, including quotes from statements released by police and both political parties.
2016. December 2. A call was issued last night by David Burt, the Leader of the Opposition, for supporters to demonstrate today at Parliament as MPs prepare to debate the controversial airport development legislation. The call was made in an e-mail and reiterated at a People’s Campaign meeting on the airport project which featured Mr Burt as a panelist alongside Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert, Larry Burchall and moderator Reverend Nicholas Tweed. “Our call is simple,” Mr Burt said at the packed meeting at St Paul’s Centennial Hall, which was also broadcast on Magic 102.7. “Submit the deal to an advance review by the office of the Auditor-General, let her give her independent assessment of the cost to taxpayers of this deal and then, and only then, should Parliament, the representatives of the people of Bermuda, be able to ask the Government as to whether or not we are going to privatize our airport to this Canadian company and export our profits overseas.” And responding to members of the public who voiced their frustrations and called for less talking and more action, he said: “I hear your frustration, I hear where you are, you are tired of marching. But tomorrow is a day where the One Bermuda Alliance is planning on using their very slim majority to sell our airport, to privatize our airport to a foreign company and we cannot let that happen. So I hope that you will heed the call. At the very minimum, the people of this country deserve an independent review of this deal. And if the Government is not prepared to commit to that, then there’s going to be no negotiation on our side.” Noting that “we have exhausted the political options”, Mr Burt called also on Randy Horton, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, to reconsider his position, saying it is only because of where he sits that “the One Bermuda Alliance is still the Government of the day. I would hope that this evening, the Speaker of the House would consider the fact that the people voted for him, voted for the Progressive Labour Party and would consider the fact that if he decided to come home to the PLP, the One Bermuda Alliance’s plan’s would be derailed. Because we can march and we can make our voices heard, but the actions of one man would be enough to stop this entire thing.” Mr Furbert also called on the people to send a clear message “to Michael Dunkley and the OBA Government like they did in the early 1970s when the UBP was trying to implement the payroll tax on the hotel workers’ grats, then you show up tomorrow in full force and I can tell you, the OBA will have no other choice but to turn that bill somewhere else”. Referencing the protests in March, which he said saw about 15 per cent of the workforce come out, he added: “So instead of taking five days, if we had 80 per cent out, maybe it takes one day to resolve.” And Reverend Nicholas Tweed, who pointed out to much laughter that he had “exercised tremendous discipline and restraint in his neutral role as facilitator”, added in closing: “On the dawn of the 39th anniversary of 1977, we must decide whether we are going to continue to address symptoms and get tired of walking, tired of marching, because we are addressing symptoms and we have to decide whether we are ready and committed to fix the problem. You think on these things. Your destiny is in your hands.” In an e-mail sent last night from the Progressive Labour Party, Mr Burt called today “a pivotal date in Bermuda’s history” — noting past occasions when mass protests had caused the Bermuda Government to backtrack. On March 14, demonstrations outside Sessions House blocked legislators from the building, and Mr Burt pointed to that showdown as well as mass demonstrations on furlough days as occasions when the One Bermuda Alliance “wouldn’t listen and the people forced them to listen”. Mr Burt also reiterated his call for the Auditor-General to review the proposal in advance and to give an independent assessment of its cost to MPs — a request that was earlier turned down by the Government. Michael Dunkley, the Premier, has stated that the project has already been assessed, and that the Auditor-General’s office is unsuited to evaluating projects in advance. Mr Burt’s message called on all Bermudians to come to the House of Assembly from 9am to demonstrate. The statement added: “Now it is time for the people to demonstrate our strength yet again because you know, as we do, that ‘the power of the people is far greater than the people in power’.”
2016. November 30. Legislators have been handed a substantial reading list ahead of tomorrow’s debate on bills essential for the Bermuda Government’s airport development to proceed. A raft of documents detailing how the multimillion-dollar deal would work was yesterday released to The Royal Gazette under public access to information laws. The agreement’s schedules include a comprehensive list of scenarios that would cancel the project — ranging from a “deterioration” making the new terminal unaffordable, or a chill in international markets that might render financing impossible. There are still plans for parts of the existing terminal to remain: while its eastern portion is earmarked for demolition, the newer western facility has a future as office space, staff facilities and storage. Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, was fiercely criticised for an e-mail reference to Canadian Commercial Corporation that he had “fuzzied” numbers regarding financing — but the schedules illustrate the uncertainty of a project relying on hoped-for future revenues. If projections fall short, the Government must pay Project Co, the entity running the airport, in return for “participating equity certificates”, which suggests the concessionaire handing over ownership stakes — potentially allowing for the later recovery of funds. All guaranteed revenue payments to Project Co would be held in “a segregated interest bearing account”, and would be restricted to debt-related payments. If the new terminal at L.F. Wade International Airport should prove an unexpected bonanza, the Government would share in that revenue — once the investment had been recouped. Although Mr Richards has been Bermuda’s face for the proposal, the first page shows a 2015 agreement between CCC, and the Ministry of Tourism Development and Transportation, which would ultimately take purview. Much has been made of the enhanced retail on offer, and Bermudians who recall the days when locals lined up at the McDonald’s on the old United States naval airbase could be forgiven for wondering whether the golden arches might return. Project Co gets exclusive right to provide a plethora of potential commercial services and developments, ranging from casinos to a planetarium. However, since these are subject to “current Bermuda public policy”, McDonald’s or other food franchises seem unlikely to feature on the menu. On airport design, a “linear” terminal was settled upon, with exterior “Bermuda motifs”. Financial close was originally anticipated by November, allowing a December 2020 completion after a 40-month build — which means a finished terminal would be farther down the road. Like MPs, The Royal Gazette only recently obtained the 229-page document of the Airport Development Agreement and its nine schedules, which had been withheld as confidential. This newspaper first requested the schedules associated with the $250 million development back in January. Our request was refused and we appealed the decision to the information commissioner, who launched a review. Yesterday, the Ministry of Finance e-mailed the schedules to us, in the context of that review, enabling us to share them with the public for the first time. The release of the schedules to this newspaper came less than 24 hours after the Speaker of the House, Randy Horton, revealed that he had “raised with the Government the importance of releasing the schedules of the airport development agreement”. Financing, and whether the Government satisfied due diligence requirements, will feature prominently in tomorrow’s debate. Fierce opposition has continued to the bitter end, with a website launched called “Keep Our Airport Bermudian”, and flyers denouncing Mr Richards placed on cars.
2016. November 30. Legislators got two extra days to prepare for a debate in Parliament on key airport redevelopment Acts, after Randy Horton, the Speaker of the House, deferred today’s session until Friday. Meanwhile, confidential schedules for the airport development agreement, withheld since April because of non-disclosure agreements, have been shared with MPs. The schedules were not divulged while negotiations continued with Canadian Commercial Corporation and its contractor, Aecon, despite the issuing of a summons by the Public Accounts Committee. However, Mr Horton said he had called upon Bob Richards, the Deputy Premier, to request their release — which was granted yesterday, prompting the deferral. It came in the wake of several days of meetings with Michael Dunkley, the Premier, as well as Leader of the Opposition David Burt and their respective parliamentary teams. Last night, Mr Dunkley said that the schedules had not been given out with other reports issued on November 18 because they had still been subject to confidentiality. “The release of the schedules — at the behest of this Government — is in keeping with the Government’s commitment to fully inform the people of Bermuda at all steps of the Airport Redevelopment Project,” Mr Dunkley said. “It is my hope Members of the Opposition take this opportunity to review the documents for Friday’s debate to approve a project that will generate jobs, career and business opportunities for Bermudians; get built on time, on budget, and stimulate economic growth with no increase the national debt. This is a project of national importance that will protect and strengthen Bermudian families for years to come. We look forward to Friday’s debate.” Last night, Mr Burt said the release of the schedules — 15 months after the airport development agreement was signed — was “barely a partial victory for people in Bermuda who wanted transparency and good government. It was only after immense pressure by the Opposition and the public that the Government, Aecon and CCC finally relented on their longstanding and unjustified refusal to release the schedules of the Airport Development Agreement. The documentation released earlier today is insufficient and more information is required for Members of Parliament to make an informed decision. Of necessity is the release of the Project Agreement itself, which will govern the 30-year concession between the Government and Aecon. Today’s release of the schedules is a feigned attempt at transparency as the substantial contract details still remain unknown.” Mr Burt had yesterday planned to issue a speech to residents from the steps of Parliament, where a small group of protesters quietly gathered in anticipation of the debate. Dressed in black shirts emblazoned with the campaign name Move, they were watched by police, with a fence flanking the Sessions House entrance — echoing concerns from March, when mass demonstrations over immigration proposals briefly shut down Parliament. Flyers accusing Mr Richards of breaking the law over the deal were placed on parked cars last night in Hamilton. Mr Burt appeared at Parliament but announced the cancellation of his speech, saying he could not divulge his reasons — although he later tweeted that today’s session had been postponed. It capped a day of continued sparring over the airport agreement, with Mr Burt issuing a response to Mr Richards’s counter-response to an Opposition press release. Mr Richards charged that the Opposition “appears to be working on the theory that if you repeat a falsehood often enough, people will believe it”, while Mr Burt continued to hammer the project as “an untendered deal which has violated the Good Governance Act”. Mr Horton’s deferral was the second for the legislation, originally scheduled for last Friday but postponed to allow more time for MPs to review the project’s business case and value for money report.
2016. November 27. The Premier has refused a written request by the Progressive Labour Party for an independent review by the Auditor-General of the proposed airport development before MPs vote on legislation. Michael Dunkley reiterated last night that an assessment had already been carried out and that the Bermuda Government intended to debate the legislation during the next House of Assembly session. His comments came after Opposition leader David Burt repeated his call for an independent review, which had been outlined in a letter to the Premier dated November 24. “Yes it was denied and for a couple of reasons; the first reason is that we have had assessment of this project done,” Mr Dunkley told The Royal Gazette. “And we’ve worked closely with the UK Government and Government House on it. We’ve made sure they’re very comfortable with it and we have their full support.” He furthermore noted that the “Auditor-General is not equipped to do this type of work”, adding that the Auditor-General is set up to do audits after the fact, not before. Mr Dunkley also dismissed Mr Burt’s accusations that the OBA had broken its promise to reveal the full contract details, refused to respond to summons by the PAC, violated financial instructions and repeatedly omitted or “fuzzier up” the facts surrounding the process of awarding the contract as “absolute nonsense”. “While the Opposition leader and his colleagues are entitled to play politics and do what they have to do, this Government has done significant due diligence on this project and my colleague, the Deputy Premier and the Minister of Finance, has worked hard on it,” he said. “We feel confident in this and this will serve Bermuda well going forward. We are going to move forward, we’re going to give the people of Bermuda all the information that’s required and we look forward to the debate in the House of Assembly on real issues, on real terms, and we’re not going to get caught up in the prevarication, the spin and the misleading comments by the Opposition leader. We were elected to make very tough decisions and this is a very complicated project. We feel we’ve got it right, putting no more debt on our bottom line, and building ourselves a new terminal. We will make sure it is managed in an appropriate way so that Bermudians get what they expect and what they deserve and we will make sure there are jobs and opportunities at the same time. It is our intention to debate it in the next session when we go back into the House.” In the letter, Mr Burt requested Government support a motion to commit “the Bermuda Airport Authority Act 2016 to the Select Committee on the Public Accounts, with a request that the Auditor-General — an ex officio member of that committee — provide the committee with an independent assessment of the impact on Government finances and value for money”. He also requested that Government “provide the necessary information to the Public Accounts Committee and/or Auditor-General to enable her to make an assessment of the project before January 31, 2017, and delay the final consideration of the project by Parliament until after this review. Note that this timing will still enable the Government to achieve financial close prior to the March 31, 2017 expiry of the Airport Development Agreement”. But he stated yesterday: “Regrettably, after receiving a written request from the Opposition for such a review, the Premier and the OBA rejected this transparent, sensible and reasonable approach and continue to stubbornly barrel ahead with this scheme. Parliament needs to have a fully independent review of the finances of this deal so that every MP, acting on behalf of the people they represent, can understand what impact the vote would have on the government’s finances. The best way for this to happen is the reasonable and sensible suggestion that the PLP have brought forward; to request the Auditor-General to review the contract in advance, including the documents that have not been disclosed to parliament, and provide MPs with unbiased information regarding the impact of this deal will have on government finances.” The proposal for a new terminal at LF Wade International Airport cannot proceed until the Airport Redevelopment Concession Act and the Bermuda Airport Authority Act are approved. This was expected to go before MPs during last Friday’s sitting of the House of Assembly but it was delayed after a meeting with Opposition and Government leaders to give MPs the opportunity to go over the materials that had been shared up to this point, according to Randy Horton, Speaker of the House.
2016. November 25. Bermuda’s airport redevelopment deal is “unusual”, according to the global body Airports Council International — but the proposal was also described as “creative” and seemingly well vetted. “Our message is not to say that they should or should not do this,” added Angela Gittens, director general of ACI. “Due diligence appears to have been done, and the provisions of the agreement, from what we can see, are the kinds of provisions that we promote.” ACI, a worldwide trade representative for airports, spoke with The Royal Gazette after assessing the business case and value-for-money reports on the project. Based in Montreal, Canada, the non-profit ACI serves 592 members operating 1,853 airports. The reports, issued by the Government a week ago, have been fiercely disputed, with MPs heading into Parliament today to debate two key pieces of airport legislation. The Progressive Labour Party is to call for the Auditor-General to assess the Government’s public-private partnership with Canadian Commercial Corporation before MPs debate the Airport Redevelopment Concession Act and the Bermuda Airport Authority Act. In a measure of the political rancor that has dogged the project for two years, Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, has spent the week at loggerheads with David Burt, the Leader of the Opposition, over whether the reports demonstrate value for money. Public-private partnerships like Bermuda’s are a growing global trend, Ms Gittens said, and airports are “one of the places where governments recognise that they can get outside sources of capital”. The group took special note of the island’s partnership with Canada to develop a lone, comparatively small facility. “This one was very interesting to read,” Ms Gittens said. “I don’t know if we have had this government-to-government structure. It’s creative and resourceful. Having a PPP isn’t unusual, but the structure is. It’s also included provisions that we encourage. The Government sets out its objectives clearly and its criteria for success. Something we see is either buyer’s or seller’s remorse, when various parties draw different conclusions of what success looks like. In this case, that looks like it has been made manifest. Everyone will know what the deal is. It’s almost textbook in terms of what we would advocate.” Ms Gittens also ranked the assessments as realistic in terms of potential pitfalls. “In any transaction there is a risk of things not working out. It’s important that everyone understands things can go wrong in 30 years. The fact that it is countenanced is very important.” Mr Richards has given job creation as one of the project’s top priorities, which Ms Gittens said was a typical rationale for any government. Governments also find airports attractive for their capacity to be run more in the style of a commercial business than other infrastructural investments, she noted. Stefano Baronci, director of economics for ACI, has examined a value-for-money report commissioned from the transport consultancy Steer Davies Gleave, and said he was satisfied with its analysis. “The report very much provided evidence that the objective that Bermuda has set in advance could be met by selecting this scenario,” he said. “There are two important points that the report highlights which make you understand the level of risk that the investor takes.” Passenger numbers could flag in the future, he said, while the modernization of infrastructure by itself “can’t be a game changer for increasing demand”. Both officials found it unusual that investors would take interest in a small airport that did not belong to a larger network of facilities. “This particular investor is taking great risk,” Ms Gittens said. “Typically, they wouldn’t look at an airport of this size. I think it’s because of this government-to-government feature.” The backing of the Canadian Government, Mr Baronci said, made the proposal “solid — more so than with a purely private investor”. Ms Gittens, who recalled the island from an ACI conference held here in 2010, gave high marks to the argument that L.F. Wade International’s current terminal was susceptible to damage from hurricanes. “What a lot of the documents talk about is what happens if you don’t do anything. It looks like you don’t have that option just from a maintenance point of view with the terminal’s vulnerability to storms. That puts you out of business altogether. This is something that’s expensive to maintain which will be an albatross around your necks until you do something else. That’s an important element. It’s not just a pretty new building to replace something that isn’t pretty.”
2016. November 24. A parliamentary showdown looms for tomorrow as the Opposition aims to table a motion calling for the airport development to be referred to the Public Accounts Committee — and requesting that the Auditor-General conduct an independent review. Progressive Labour Party leader David Burt yesterday continued to attack a value-for-money report from the firm Steer Davies Gleave as being based on an invalid comparison. The request will be made before MPs debate two crucial pieces of legislation for the proposal. Speaking alongside shadow transport minister Lawrence Scott and Michael Scott, the Shadow Attorney-General, Mr Burt maintained that Parliament could not be expected to consider the Acts when there had been no independent review provided. Mr Scott added that the proposal broke a convention of administrations not embarking on “mega capital projects” in the final year of their term. Mr Scott also condemned giving the Bermuda Airport Authority the power to lease publicly owned land. “What exactly is Parliament voting on?” Mr Burt asked, noting that the fine details are still under negotiation “On Friday, we will be voting to give an Airport Authority, who is unelected and appointed by the minister, the permission to enter into a contract of their choosing which we have not been able to see. It is a surprise to me that we’re even doing this, because the Government had said that before anything was done, they would release all these assessment reports. These assessment reports have only been released to the public last week Friday.” Mr Burt reiterated a call made during Monday’s session of the House for the Auditor-General, Heather Jacobs Matthews, to provide her own analysis — which prompted Lynne Woolridge, the chairman of the One Bermuda Alliance, to accuse him of misleading the public. Last night Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, said Mr Burt had been incorrect in asserting that the report’s conclusion compared the $267 million redevelopment to a vastly more expensive older mode. “The two comparators are what I call the expensive band-aid approach that we are doing now and the design-build option,” he said. “The old $514 million Taj Mahal option has nothing to do with it. The Auditor-General’s job is to audit Government accounts, not to study projects that have not taken place yet. This is an attempt to stall the project — that’s all.”
2016. November 19. The Bermuda Government’s airport development project is to take shape, two years after the deal first went public, under key pieces of legislation waiting to go before MPs in this session. According to the Government Whip, the Airport Authority Act and the Airport Redevelopment Concession Act must sit on the House of Assembly’s order paper for at least two sittings before coming up for debate. Since both were tabled on Monday by Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, they should remain off the agenda during next week’s sessions. If approved, the deal with the Canadian Government through Canadian Commercial Corporation and Aecon, the Canadian contractor, would mark the island’s second public-private partnership after the hospital’s acute care wing. The agreement is for a 30-year concession with an entity thus far known generically as Project Co — which The Royal Gazette understands would do business as Bermuda Skyport Corporation Limited. CCC’s involvement would cease once the new terminal became operational, and Project Co, owned by Aecon with a minimum of 35 per cent equity, would take over running the airport. According to an overview issued by Mr Richards, L.F. Wade International Airport would be leased to the company over the 30 years of the agreement. In addition, under the Bermuda Airport Authority Act, a new entity would be set up to take over from the Department of Airport Operations — currently part of the Bermuda Government. The BAA would oversee the redevelopment, along with the operation, maintenance and management of the airport. The quango would carry responsibility for the Government’s retained services, as well as holding the airport to quality standards, while Project Co would carry out operation and maintenance until the concession term ends. While the airport land would remain Government-owned, it would be leased to the developer by the BAA with ministerial approval, for a period not exceeding 30 years. That agreed period cannot be extended, meaning that the airport’s operation, along with its assets, would return to the Government after that term. Left off the lease would be the unused runway jutting into Castle Harbour known as the Finger, which the Government would retain. Mr Richards has said that solar energy is planned for that vacant strip, to assist with the energy subsidy for airport electricity. However, retailers in the new terminal would not be entitled to a break in electricity costs. The Authority’s board, overseen by a chief executive officer, would consist of five to seven directors, showing qualifying experience in areas ranging from civil aviation to administration. The Act also covers the transfer of staff from the Department of Airport Operations into similar roles under the BAA — effective from an approval date. Staff who failed to accept the transfer into the BAA, and refused going into another Government department, could have their employment terminated. According to Mr Richards, jobs across the Authority and Project Co are likely to increase by 50 per cent over present airport staffing. Under the terms of a second piece of legislation, the Airport Redevelopment Concession Bill, the Government grants relief from a wide range of payments in connection with the project: import duty, stamp duty, land tax, future taxes of profits or income, work permit fees for redevelopment employees, as well as the employer’s share of payroll taxes. Aecon and the developer would get permission to pay staff in US dollars, exempted from exchange controls and foreign currency purchase tax. Finally, the Bill would grant exemption from environmental legislation and lawsuits relating to any pre-existing contamination of the airport lands. Since it was announced, the airport proposal has proven a particularly difficult sell for Mr Richards. The Minister’s top justifications have been the poor condition of the present terminal, and the need to boost employment without increasing the Government’s debt. Mr Richards has given the construction costs as $267 million, with the demolition of the old terminal costing $16 million, including some renovation costs. The construction is expected to take 40 months. Financing has constituted much of the political sparring over the deal: Project Co would take in all revenues generated by the airport, along with operational expenses such as paying staff. According to the Opposition’s figures, the airport yields a profit just below $18 million a year, which the island would lose, while taxpayers remained on the hook for significant operational costs. According to Mr Richards, the airport barely broke even until legislators last year approved an airport improvement fee and increase in departure tax — specifically for the project. That dispute is heading now for a showdown in the House — with potential to be taken up by protest groups such as the People’s Campaign, which has repeatedly challenged the proposal.
2016. November 18. Reports integral for the proposed redevelopment at LF Wade International Airport have been issued by the Bermuda Government. The Ministry of Finance, along with the Ministry of Tourism, Transport and Municipalities, encouraged the public to examine the overall business case for the project, which comes with a summary report offering an overview. The report addresses both the entrustment requirements set by the Foreign Commonwealth Office, and the gaps identified in the May 2015 report issued by Deloitte. Also issued was a value for money assessment from the independent transport consultancy firm Steer Davies Gleave, which compares the project with similar public-private partnership arrangements. According to a Government spokesman, that assessment concludes that “overall the project achieves value for money for the people of Bermuda”. The reports are available online at the Government portal, www.gov.bm/airport-redevelopment-project-arp
2016. November 3. A new CITV short film on the airport redevelopment project has been released online. The film, produced by the Bermuda Government television station, was first aired on the channel this morning, and is set to air on ZBM on Monday evening. A spokeswoman said: “This information piece discusses the options of building a new airport terminal, the employment opportunities that will be available, the risks of tendering as well as the benefits of the Government-to-Government approach.” The full 15-minute film is available to view now on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IYLJpQbWMg.
2016. October 31. A chartered accountant has defended his criticism of the Bermuda Government’s proposals for a new airport terminal, branding the Ministry of Finance’s rebuttal “invalid, erroneous and unjustified”. However Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, still maintained that the critique from retired executive Craig Mayor was flawed. Mr Mayor’s report on the proposal, which has gone through several versions, was dismissed on Friday in a letter dated July 18, provided to the media by Mr Richards. However, Mr Mayor objected that the minister’s response had applied only to his first draft of his report on the project — and that a final report, compiled in August, had included “significant changes”, including amendments to observations on the deal’s revenue guarantee, which had incorporated the minister’s comments. Mr Mayor said the rebuttal from the ministry had also used his report from June 28 to discredit his memo, presented last week before the Public Accounts Committee, in which he accused the Government of failing to examine alternatives to rebuilding the terminal. During his appearance before the PAC, Mr Mayor conceded that he was not versed in airport design, but limited his observations to the financing of the deal — a public-private partnership that has proved controversial since its announcement nearly two years ago. He charged that the Ministry of Finance’s financial comparison report on the project, issued in August, contained “significant and unacceptable errors and omission in its financial methodology and assumptions”. Mr Richards’s subsequent letter called the conclusions either incorrect or based on “false narrative”. Mr Mayor told The Royal Gazette that he had received no feedback from Michael Dunkley, the Premier, or Mr Richards on his final version of the report. Ultimately, his final analysis was compiled as the memorandum, shared with the Premier and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as well as the PAC. In response, the FCO told him in September that “on reflection it appears the points identified in the report will be most appropriate for the Bermudian Government to address”. Mr Dunkley contacted him on October 26 stating that “he did not agree with the comments and would be happy to discuss the memo”, Mr Mayor said. However, Mr Mayor maintained that the memo issued to the PAC was “entirely unrelated” to his reports in June and August. In particular, he said the minister’s comments on the revenue guarantee for the proposal with Canadian Commercial Corporation had been used to state that “the contractual liability to provide financial support will not be considered a ‘guarantee’ by credit rating agencies”. Mr Mayor said that the finance minister, by issuing a rebuttal based on old reports, had “severely undermined and damaged” the credibility of the PAC memo shared on October 27. Last night, however, Mr Richards told The Royal Gazette that he believed Mr Mayor’s submission “went over the same ground” as the earlier reports on the deal. The minister added: “What Mr Mayor wants people to believe, insofar as the Bermuda Government being on the verge of default, is that he is right, and the institutional investors who manage trillions of dollars internationally and who invested in our bonds at the lowest rate ever, are all wrong, along with the rating agencies.” Meanwhile, Government responded to Mr Mayor this morning (Monday) with the following statement, taking issue with several of his claims:
2016. October 29. A comprehensive rebuttal to a critique of the Bermuda Government’s plans for a new airport terminal has been issued by the Ministry of Finance. The document was provided to The Royal Gazette in response to chartered accountant Craig Mayor’s evidence before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), in which he chastised the Government for failing to carry out its maths “homework” when it came to the project’s potential risks. Mr Mayor told the PAC on Thursday that his expertise was limited to accounting rather than airport logistics, but repeatedly questioned the numbers behind the project. A July 18 response given yesterday branded his conclusions as incorrect or “speculative, imaginary and false narrative”. The letter from Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, thanked Mr Mayor for his report, but said that “a large majority of the conclusions drawn therein are based on a fundamentally false premise, which is that the Regulated Revenue Guarantee is tantamount to a general government guarantee. It is not. Neither do the credit-rating agencies agree with your viewpoint.” Mr Richards added that the paper appears to assume that Ministry of Finance officials are not fully aware of the challenges facing Bermuda today, and that the Government was bent on a course of action diametrically opposed to what is in the national interest. “There is no evidence supporting that assumption as it relates to this Government, particularly this minister,” he added. Mr Mayor asserted that the island could not afford to spend $250 million on a new airport, to which the minister replied: “Finally, something on which we agree.” The ministry maintained that the public-private partnership backed by Canadian Commercial Corporation was the only viable model for its transfer of financial risk away from the island. Mr Richards concluded that “the national interest is being well served by this project — we are replacing an ageing crumbling asset that is vital to all sectors of our community and economy, and we are doing so in a manner that mitigates the many large risks associated with such a project, as well as financing it in such a manner that it will not impair the Government’s balance sheet and national debt”.
2016. October 27. An internship programme for Bermudians has been launched by Aecon Group, a partner in the proposed redevelopment of LF Wade International Airport. As part of the airport redevelopment project, seven internships will be offered to local graduates. The internships will be in mechanical, structural, electrical and civil engineering, architecture, health and safety and project management. Two of the internships will be offered by Aecon, with the other five through Canadian members of Aecon’s technical team on the proposed new airport. In a statement, Aecon said: “As part of their experience, interns will spend four to five days each week with their host company working on tasks specifically related to the project. They will work with a mentor to create and complete an individual development plan throughout their programme. The professional development of the participants will be focused in four main areas: developing technical skills, gaining exposure to fundamental leadership and management skills, developing industry knowledge, and building their professional network.” The programme will be based in Toronto and will run for about six months from January 2017. On completion of their internships, participants will receive feedback on their development and goals and a certificate of achievement from Aecon. It is open to Bermudians who have completed an accredited engineering or architectural degree or postsecondary programme. Steve Nackan, president, Aecon Concessions, said: “We are pleased to be able to provide such an exciting and valuable experience for young Bermudians as part of the airport redevelopment project. This will be an opportunity for young graduates to develop their personal and professional skills, make vital industry connections and to be involved in one of the largest capital projects in Bermuda. Aecon and its partners have significant experience in the construction and infrastructure industry — from concept to creation — and we’re delighted to be able to share our knowledge with Bermudians.” Patricia Gordon — Pamplin, Minister for Home Affairs, said: “Aecon’s internship programme for Bermudians is an incredible opportunity for young people to gain high-level industry experience at leading companies in the architectural, engineering and construction industries. The Department of Workforce Development will play an integral role in this internship programme as a financial partner, in addition they will be providing mentoring and coaching services to the interns during and post training. This internship programme will provide a rich learning experience for the participants and I encourage all young graduates in these fields to apply.” Applications can be collected from the Department of Workforce Development, 23 Parliament Street. Completed applications must be received by November 14. Candidates will be chosen by a selection committee with representatives from Aecon, the Department of Workforce Development and KPMG. Additional information is available from the Department of Workforce Development on 297-7714.
2016. October 22. L.F. Wade International Airport’s problems with rain leakage have been exacerbated since Hurricane Nicole hit Bermuda, a spokesman has confirmed. The Royal Gazette contacted the airport after images appeared on social media depicting the facility’s embattled infrastructure. One picture obtained by this newspaper shows pools of rainwater on the terminal floor beneath damaged ceiling panels. Another shows the US departures area after last week’s hurricane, whose roof was so badly damaged that a seating section was left exposed to open air. The area has since been patched up by staff, although it is more susceptible to rain than previously. Following yesterday morning’s rainfall, the airport spokesman said that leak-prone areas of the terminal had been “amplified” by the hurricane, and that staff had been mopping up pools of rainwater and using bins to collect the drips. “It’s not the most sightly thing, and it’s something we hate to have to do. It’s not ideal. That’s not the image we want to have, not only for our visitors but for residents as well. Unfortunately the condition of the building is such that whenever there’s rain, especially torrential downpours, there will be leaks throughout the terminal building. It’s an ongoing issue.” Bob Richards, the Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance, is overseeing the controversial $250 million redevelopment of the airport. When asked if the leakages were indicative of the overall state of the building, he said: “Absolutely. It’s an ageing facility, and this is what happens.” Mr Richards extended his gratitude to airport workers for “rolling up their sleeves to keep the place going, in spite of working under difficult circumstances”.
2016. October 12. A “misunderstanding” at the heart of disputes over the Government’s plans for a new airport terminal was discussed at length before yesterday’s Commission of Inquiry. Anthony Manders, the Financial Secretary, told the commission he had never been in outright disagreement with Curtis Stovell, the Accountant-General, about how the deal with Canadian Commercial Corporation worked when it came to the selection of a contractor for the project. Earlier, the commission heard that Mr Stovell had been under the impression that CCC’s sole source deal for Aecon to build the new terminal would have had to come across the Accountant-General’s desk for approval before it could be signed off. However, Mr Manders, covering similar ground to that heard in Public Accounts Committee meeting, insisted that Mr Stovell had been asked simply to waive a “government-to-government approach” — the public-private partnership that he said was not even covered under governmental financial instructions. The ministry had been satisfied with that waiver, allowing CCC to proceed. “It would not have been because we were hiding it from him,” Mr Manders told commission chairman Sir Anthony Evans, who asked repeatedly why Mr Stovell had not been informed of Aecon’s involvement. Earlier, Mr Stovell had told the commission that his memos to the Ministry of Finance were shared in draft form before being sent — leading members of the commission to query how the misunderstanding had come about in the first place. Sir Anthony asked: “How did it come about that he was invited to approve the transaction, and was not told a word about Aecon?” “I can’t speak to that,” Mr Manders replied. He said the ministry was satisfied that the arrangement was secure with the Canadian Government’s backing, adding that there was nothing unusual in companies pitching possible projects to CCC — which retained the ultimate right to take on the contractor of its choice. “It didn’t cross my mind to say who was being selected,” he said, describing CCC’s selection as “really up to them”. The commission heard that the Government, at present, had no guidelines for P3 agreements, leading commission member and executive Kumi Bradshaw to suggest to Mr Manders that the group give recommendations for protocol. “That would be a great idea,” Mr Manders replied.
October 7. Aviation industry high-flyers are to touch down in Bermuda next week for a major conference — the first of its kind on the island. Around 100 delegates will discuss aircraft registration, risk management and changes to international law to reduce costs and ease financial transactions across international borders in a forum organized by specialist firm AeroPodium. Kevin Richards, BDA business development manager, said: “Thanks to AeroPodium, we’ll be able to showcase the leading role our jurisdiction has played in this industry. “We’re looking forward to meeting partners from other offshore centres to discuss pertinent issues and share best practices.” Bermuda, which operates the largest offshore aircraft registry in the world, this month abolished the Department of Civil Aviation, replacing it with the semi-autonomous Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority. Thomas Dunstan, director of the BCAA, will make the keynote speech at the conference, due to be held at the Hamilton Princess on Monday and Tuesday. Mr Dunstan said: “The timing is perfect and this will be our first official event as the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority. The conference will allow us to launch our new brand and celebrate this new chapter in the history of Bermuda’s civil aviation.” Panagiotis Panagopoulos, CEO and founder of AeroPodium, said: “Bermuda is the ideal location for this year’s conference and more international delegates than in previous years are expected to attend.”
October 7. Technical officers told the Development Applications Board that work on the airport redevelopment project is still expected to begin this year. According to the minutes of the board’s September 28 meeting, in which it discussed the planning application for the project, the board questioned the technical officer about the timeframe for construction. The officer reportedly confirmed that works were due to commence in December. While the board did approve the application, it first sought clarification on several elements, including the size of the immigration arrivals hall. A section of the minutes states: “In respect of the size of the immigration arrivals hall, it was questioned how arriving passengers would be accommodated if several full flights arrived simultaneously and the IT processing system was not functioning to efficiently process the arrivals. The technical officer confirmed that airport officers had indicated that passengers would not be permitted to disembark the aircraft until capacity of the hall was reduced.” The board also questioned the system for handling storm water run-off, asking if a proposed pond feature included in the plans was necessary to manage it. The technical officer confirmed that one of its primary purposes was to assist other infrastructure in managing storm water. He also explained that the pond would be aerated to avoid stagnation and killifish would be added to mitigate against mosquitoes. The minutes stated that the board advised that the applicant would liaise with the Corporation of St George about the use of Penno’s Wharf to accommodate the delivery of construction materials to avoid scheduling conflicts, and that a bird monitoring programme shall be established for the collection of data after the start of operation of the passenger terminal building. The airport redevelopment has been the subject of fierce criticism since its announcement, chiefly because of the Government’s handling of the project. Opponents have accused the Government of a lack of transparency because of its refusal to publicly release schedules of the agreement with the developer, Aecon. However, the Government has responded that negotiations were continuing and that the documents cannot be released until they are finalized. Questions have also been raised about the long-term cost of the project. While David Burt, the deputy Leader of the Opposition, claimed the project would cost the public $33 million per year for 30 years, Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, said Mr Burt’s estimations were inflated, calling the project a job-creating investment in the island’s future.
Artist's impression of new airport
2016. October 4. Plans for a redeveloped L.F. Wade International Airport have garnered provisional approval from the Development Applications Board. The plans for the controversial project were submitted to the Department of Planning earlier this year, proposing a new steel and glass terminal building at the western end of the present runway. The new facility would be built on higher ground to reduce the risk of flooding, and will continue to house pre-clearance for US customs and immigration as well as enclosed passenger bridges to aircraft. The planning application formally went before the Development Applications Board during their meeting last Wednesday, and received provisional approval. Government has expressed hope that ground would be broken on the $250 million project by the end of the year, and timelines for the project included in the application state that the final phase of development is hoped to be completed by March 2020. However, the project has been the subject of repeated criticism, with opponents claiming a lack of transparency by Government about its dealings with the Canadian Commercial Corporation — a Canadian government agency — and Canadian contractor Aecon. Areas of concern include the lack of tendering for the project and its long-term economic impact with David Burt, the Deputy Opposition Leader, alleging the “30-year privatization” of the airport would increase the annual budget deficit by at least $33 million. However, Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, has rejected Mr Burt’s figures, calling the project “an investment in Bermuda today and over the long term”, adding that the project would create construction, retail and administrative jobs for Bermudians.
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). 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. Overseen by the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority, which replaced the Department of Civil Aviation. The staff at the BCCA include flight operations inspectors, an airworthiness surveyor and airworthiness inspectors.
They regulate the airport; make sure it operates to the right standards; run the Bermuda Aircraft Register, one of the largest in the world, covering all types of civilian aircraft based in many countries but which are incorporated and registered in Bermuda); 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.
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.
October 21, 2017.
Multi-national © 2017 by Bermuda Online. All Rights Reserved.