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Approaching Bermuda by air
By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) at e-mail exclusively for Bermuda Online
To refer to this web file, please use "bermuda-online.org/airport.htm" as your Subject.
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.
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 and history. 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.
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.
On May 31, 2010 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.
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 7,000tonnes (15,432,000lbs), Warehouse 8,500m² (91,493sq ft), Bonded Warehouse, Aircraft Maintenance, Heated Storage, Mortuary, Animal Quarantine, Fresh Meat Inspection, Livestock Handling, Health Officials, X-Ray Equipment, Security for Valuables, Dangerous Goods, Express/Courier Centre. The cargo terminal has 25,850 square feet.
No airport passenger boarding bridges or jetways (known in the United Kingdom as covered walkways). Possibly by 2013. Bermuda is one of the few international airports without any. A boarding bridge or jet way is the corridor that rolls out from the terminal at most airports to the front door of the aircraft. Nor are there any "at level" crossing points.
Airport administration. Operated directly by the Bermuda Government's Department of Airport Operations (DAO) which runs the airport from its upstairs offices at the airport. The DAO has a full-time staff of 56 employees. Overseen by the Director of Civil Aviation (DCA). The staff at the DCA include flight operations inspectors, an airworthiness surveyor and airworthiness inspectors. The DCA and his staff have several main functions. They are to regulate the airport; make sure the Department of Airport Operations operates to the right standards; run the Bermuda Aircraft Register (which includes about 150 aircraft, of which about a third are commercial, the others privately owned, including helicopters based aboard Bermuda-registered yachts); and ensure compliance with the Bermuda Government's air services policy which includes approving air fares, routes and services operated by the airlines serving Bermuda and charters. The airport is open for aircraft operations continuously. However, terminal services are only available from 5 am to midnight. Airport tower services and airport firefighting services are not available from 11 pm to 7 am. During this time the airport operates under non-tower operations and pilots of general aviation aircraft use the ARCAL to activate the airport runway and taxiway lights. The airport operations building has two floors. It is made of a mix of Bermuda stone (limestone), concrete blocks, concrete and wood. The upper floor has 65,300 square feet and the ground floor 172,500 square feet. The 2011-2012 fiscal year operating budget of the DAO is $20.5 million. This is down $332,000 when compared to the 2010/11 budget.
Via the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) agreement between Bermuda and the USA, the FAA provides air traffic control services for Atlantic air traffic passing through Bermuda air space. Bermuda provides tower air traffic control services for all flights landing and departing the Island, to a distance of eight miles. The FAA provides air traffic approach control services from its New York Center for all flights on behalf of Bermuda.
Bermuda and the FAA also agreed a number of cost sharing responsibilities in equipment, maintenance and operations. Now installed is an array of navigational aids and communications equipment to help the FAA fulfill its en route and approach control responsibilities. The agreement enables the USA and United Kingdom to fulfill their commitments to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), while the FAA benefits from enhanced management of air space around Bermuda. Data sent from Bermuda helps reduce time and distance separation restrictions and permits access to the most efficient cruising levels for aircraft.
Air Traffic Control Service is provided from an ATC Tower located on high ground approximately midpoint of the runway on its north side. Departure and Arrival control is provided from New York Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) at Ronkonkoma, Long Island New York, using radio transmitters and receivers installed in Bermuda and real time feeds of VOR and Radar signals from Bermuda.
Electronic navigation aids include a Category I Instrument Landing System serving runway 30, a VOR/DME serving both runways and a secondary surveillance radar, with a range of approximately 200 miles. Aeronautical information is available in the Bermuda Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP). It may be purchased from the Bermuda Department of Civil Aviation.
In 2011 the airport secured a new low cost carrier AirTran Airways, which would be providing services from Baltimore and Atlanta. The airport installed an advanced surveillance radar, in a cost-sharing agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), for $4.3 million. The airport was in the process of developing and redesigning a new plan for the Ferry Reach end of the runway. It requires the displacement of the runway threshold, thereby shortening the usable length of the runway by 590 feet. Navigational aid equipment known as Precision Approach Path Indicators (PAPIS), used by pilots to help guide aircraft to the touchdown point, will have to be repositioned. Runway lighting will have to be moved and line markings re-applied in order to meet the new regulatory requirement. To reduce costs and boost quality the Department of Airport Operations had contracted a group of IT specialists to take over the passenger processing system. This includes enhanced check-in functionality, flight information screens, WIFI, public announcements and the installation of an airport music system. This upgrade has been achieved at a 25 percent cost saving over the previous contract.
Not under airport jurisdiction and that no blame can be attached to the airport. But, like the airport, it is owned and managed by the Bermuda Government. This significant metallic waste dump spills out into Castle Harbour which borders the airport. It can be seen by flights arriving at the airport. It is not known publicly whether it affects aircraft navigation systems. But it is known that there are no similar airport dumps so close to other international airports elsewhere. Cars, motorcycles, tires and refrigerators are routinely dumped here, leeching the water, in amounts averaging 700 truckloads a week. But in Bermuda's tiny total land area of only 21 square miles or 56 square kilometers, there is nowhere else in Bermuda to site the dump.
A 2004 upgrade replaced the system installed by the US Navy prior to 1995.
There is a separate Government Parking Area, with three free reserved spaces for Government vehicles with license plates GP1 (the Premier) to GP20, only. For everyone else, 2 hours are shown as the maximum allowed in the short-term car park. The Department of Air Operations provides a few Handicapped Parking by Permit only spaces in the short-term maximum 2 hours Arrivals area, opposite the Airport Police Service station. There is a much larger Long-Term car park to the east of the Arrivals area, but currently, with no Disabled or Handicapped Parking. Motorists pay by credit card.
In June 2013 Bermuda’s new long-range radar at LF Wade International Airport went online. The improved radar extended coverage from 360 miles to 440 miles. The project, undertaken in tandem with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), marks the first significant upgrade of the navigation system since Bermuda’s formal agreement with the US 20 years ago. Under the deal the FAA installs equipment in Bermuda and the Island shares radar surveillance with flight controllers in New York for the FAA to manage aircraft coming in and out of the Island or passing through Bermuda airspace.
Airport security is contracted out by the Bermuda Government to a private sector security organization, which also provides the Bermuda Airport Security Police. Passenger security is handled by a different security company. It handles the screening of passengers' bags and luggage. Every bag going into an aircraft's hold will pass through an X-ray machine with Threat Image Projection to find images of dangerous objects. Electronic baggage monitoring helps to ensure extra bags are not put on the aircraft. It also helps locate bags of passengers who are detained by authorities from departing aircraft at the last minute. In addition to the Departure Tax per adult, all passengers pay a Bermuda Government Airport Security Fee, added on to the cost of an airline ticket. The fee is structured to recover a portion of the costs incurred to meet the security requirements stipulated by the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority.
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.
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.
Updated: March 5, 2014.
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