The twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda has opened one of the most modern international airports in the Caribbean. The 23,000 square meters new terminal for the destination, more than doubles the capacity of the adjacent previous terminal, making way for an increase in passenger use of the V.C. Bird International Airport as an all important airline hub, and the largest gateway to the Eastern Caribbean.
There are 4 jet bridges, and a unique, state of the art baggage sorting and scanning system. With faster immigration processing times, user friendly innovations and features, the near US$100 million terminal that opens for operation on August 24, will greatly improve the visitor experience, allowing travellers expedited access to Antigua and Barbuda, and maximum sun time on the destination’s 365 beaches.
For those departing, there are 46 check-in counters and 15 self-check in kiosks. A bigger departure lounge, offers more space to relax, modern comforts, multiple gates, and an enhanced shopping and dining experience. The facility houses 30 retail units including International brands Dufry, Colombian Emeralds, Café Britt, Café Player and Subway. Free wifi and Internet service is available for the tech savvy traveler, while travelers with pets, can take advantage of the airport’s pet friendliness by enjoying the pet restroom.
There are three brand, new lounges: A VVIP lounge, a VIP lounge and an Airport Executive Lounge. The airport executive lounge, with outdoor balcony offers remarkable views of two of Antigua’s offshore islands – Long Island and Maiden Island, giving passengers the opportunity to bask in the last rays of sunshine before their flight.
The modern facility, funded by China EXIM Bank concessional loan, and by a Chinese Government Interest Free Loan, has also been specially designed with elevators, escalators and ramps, to serve the travel needs of passengers requiring special assistance.
The terminal building will also see an innovative feature intended to further advance Antigua and Barbuda’s reputation as a leader in sustainable tourism and sustainable development within the region. This involves the establishment of a 3 mega watt solar photovoltaic facility, to provide green energy solutions to the considerable demand for electrical energy in the new terminal.
Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Energy and Investment, The Honourable Asot Michael says, “What we are celebrating today as we cut a ribbon is the largest single infrastructural investment in the development of our young nation. This facility, is one that we can all be proud of and of which I am confident will help ensure the bright and successful future of Antigua and Barbuda. It will further cement our position as a premier tourist destination of choice in the Caribbean.
“We are responsible for ensuring a major part of this, by ensuring that our islands are exactly what we promise: welcoming, beautiful, safe and enjoyable; from the point when visitors touch down to their departure we will ensure that their experience is one that is unforgettable and that they take back only warm and lasting memories of their time spent in our beautiful country.”
For the upcoming winter season, JetBlue Airways will begin direct service to Antigua’s new international airport, from New York’s JFK International Airport on November 5. In December, Alitalia will begin weekly service from Milan, and Seaborne Airlines will begin direct service from San Juan.
The V.C. Bird International Airport currently offers service to more than fifty destinations worldwide on Air Canada, American Airlines, British Airways, Caribbean Airlines, Condor, Delta Airlines, LIAT (1974) Ltd, St Barth Commuter, ABM Air, Thomas Cook Airlines, Tradewinds Aviation, United Airlines, US Airways, Virgin Atlantic Airways and WestJet.
The new terminal will operate 24 hours a day. The previous terminal building which processed over 860,000 passengers per year, will continue be used partially for administrative purposes.
The new and greatly improved V. C. Bird International Airport terminal is the latest jewel in the country’s tourism crown, and will position Antigua and Barbuda for unprecedented growth in the travel and tourism industry.