Nassau Airport Development Co.

As one of the world’s most popular destinations, the commonwealth of the Bahamas is known for world-class hotels and attractions. Within the next few years, the islands’ largest airport will match these attractions in quality and become even more of an extension of the hospitality the area is known for.

Within the next few years, Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) in Nassau will take on a brand new look as the result of an ongoing expansion and redevelopment project. The $409.5 million project, which broke ground in July 2009, is the largest public infrastructure construction project in the history of the Bahamas. 

Stewart Steeves, president and CEO of the Nassau Airport Development Com­pany Ltd. (NAD), says the project will increase the airport’s size and give it a major quality upgrade.

“This airport was built from the 1950s to the early 1990s, and you move through the decades as you walk through the buildings,” he explains. “Some areas are no longer serviceable.”

Project Phases

There are two phases of the project, with the first phase nearing completion. Phase one work includes improvements to the physical and sanitary conditions in the airport’s current terminals, installation of a new $2 million baggage system in the U.S. departures terminal, a new baggage system carousel in the international arrival terminal, 17 new or refurbished restrooms, and parking and public address system upgrades.

Phase two of the project is comprised of three stages.

Stage one, now under way, is the construction of a new 247,000-square-foot U.S. departures terminal, to be completed by early 2011. The project is running ahead of schedule and budget, according to NAD.

Crews are working on enclosing the structure and preparing to install hurricane-tested curtain walls to the building’s exterior surface. Superstructure construction was completed in March, marked by a ceremony where Bahamian officials joined airport staff and workers to see the final steel beam placed.

The construction of the building is about 60 percent complete, Steeves says. More than 2,000 tons of structural steel and 15,000 cubic yards of concrete have been used so far during construction, according to the NAD.

In addition to the terminal building, the NAD explains, the first stage of phase two includes the construction of approximately 1 million square feet of new asphalt apron and new parking facilities and roadways. 

Stage two, scheduled to begin after the completion of the new U.S. departures terminal and to be completed in late 2012, includes selective demolition of the current U.S. departures terminal and construction of a new 226,000-square-foot international arrivals terminal and international departures pier.

A new 112,000-square-foot domestic/international departures and domestic arrivals terminal will be added at LPIA during the project’s third and final stage. This terminal is set to open in 2013.

Once all phases are completed, the airport will feature a total terminal area of 571,000 squ­are feet, with 10 jet-bridge capable gates. Other features include four gates capable of taking Boeing 747-sized aircraft, and one capable of handling the Airbus A-380, the world’s largest aircraft. An additional 1 million square feet of airport operating surface – including park­ing lots and taxiways – will also be available.

The airport handled 3.2 million passengers in 2008; once the expansion is complete, roughly 5.2 million passengers are expected by 2020, according to NAD.

Key Contractors

The general contractor for the terminal is a joint venture of Ledcor Construction of Vancouver and Woslee Construction of Nassau. A third of the contracts for work on the site went to Bahamian companies, and 75 percent of the labor force to date is local, Steeves says. 

“Bahamian workers are getting opport­unities and learning special skills from in­ternational workers being brought in to do specialized work that is not normally done here,” he adds.

Key subcontractors include NR Windows Inc. of West Palm Beach, Fla., who worked on 4,400 square feet of curtain wall and 90,000 square feet of aluminum cladding for the project. The company specializes in commercial glazing for medium to large projects.

Thermoset Roofing Bahamas of Nassau, a fully Bahamian-owned roofing contractor, is installing the membrane roofing, insulation and roof-related sheet metal on the terminal.

“The project has presented a challenge for which we are highly capable, and it has filled us with a sense of pride because of the positive effect it will have on the future development of our nation,” Thermoset Roofing Bahamas owner Stuart Culmer stresses. “I wish to thank the Bahamas government and Ledcor/Woslee Joint-Venture Contractors for granting us the opportunity to work with them and cementing their confidence in us.”

Adam Honig, owner of Thermoset Roofing Corp.,  partner to Thermoset Roofing Bahamas, also thanks the Ledcor/Woslee joint venture, architect Stantec and owner NAD, for the opportunity to work with them on this project.

“This project has been one of the most high-profile and professionally rewarding projects and has truly allowed us to show our problem-solving skills, as well as our quality management abilities in the field, while working under a very compressed schedule and extremely challenging weather conditions,” Honig says.

More than 400 jobs will be created at the height of stage one construction, and more than 400,000 man hours have already gone into the project, according to the company.

Making an Impression

The new terminals and other airport features will make an immediate impression on visitors arriving at the airport once completed, Steeves says. “The entire facility is being constructed with what we call a Bahamian a sense of place,” he notes. “The design of the structures and the colors and fabrics used in the interiors are all reflective of the Bahamas.”

NAD is commissioning $2 million worth of local art to be placed throughout the new terminals, and gardens with indigenous species of plants will separate the new buildings. 

Inside the terminals, Bahamian-themed shops and restaurants will welcome travelers. The airport’s restaurants will be outdoor patios. “From a passenger service perspective, the new terminals will provide more capacity, more gates, and more services for travelers,” Steeves says. “It will be a more pleasant experience for the travelling public altogether.”

The renovated and expanded airport will ultimately match the quality of surrounding hotels and attractions, he adds. 

“Tourism is the largest sector of the economy of the Bahamas, and the airport is a key gateway to that,” Steeves says. “We’re focusing on making it a better facility in terms of quality and service; there are world-class, leading hotels and resort facilities here, and we feel the airport should be of a similar caliber.” 

Eye on the Environment

The new LPIA facilities, including the U.S. departures terminal, will be fully energy efficient, incorporating designs with low environmental impact, including large roof overhangs and external sun screening. The renovation will also include low-flush automatic plumbing fixtures and use storm water and pumped groundwater for irrigation.

Other sustainable features include day-lighting strategies, solar power, variable speed drives and displacement ventilation, interior materials with low volatile organic compound emissions, and exterior walls designed to reduce heat gain. An automatic building management system will include carbon dioxide and setback temperature controls, high-efficiency chillers, and direct digital controls and multiple variable air volume boxes for individual zone temperature control.

The new terminal also will use a deep-well cooling system to reject the heat produced by the airport’s new chillers. This system passes water from deep in the earth through heat exchangers, which captures the chill of the water and discharges heated water back into the earth. The well system will be used in lieu of cooling towers, which would consume about 10 million gallons of potable water each year, the company says. 

NAD is committed to operating in a socially responsible and environmentally sound way. The company strives to prevent pollution by using sustainable technology and methods, setting measurable environmental and social objectives, promoting energy efficiency and reporting its results and findings to the public.

“This is good business practice,” Steeves says of the company’s environmental focus. “This is how we operate as an organization. We don’t take shortcuts when it comes to environmental issues, and if we uncover any issues as we go, we will deal with them.”

’A Rigorous Safety Culture’

All contractors and subcontractors working on the project are required to follow and adopt an NAD-authored safety plan into their own safety procedures, Steeves says.

NAD’s safety plan includes requirements that every worker on the site go through an orientation program, as well as other musts including uniform requirements and regular safety meetings. The site also features fencing around the roofs and other physical elements meant to keep workers safe.

“I’m happy to say that out of the more than 400,000 man hours put into this project, we’ve only had eight hours of time lost,” Steeves says. “We’ve been quite fortunate in that way. We have a rigorous safety culture on the site.”

Financing Sources

In March 2009, NAD secured $265 million to finance the terminal construction. Capital came from a total of 16 investors and lenders, along with the government of the Bahamas.

Funding is broken down into three segments: a $153 million revolving credit facility, a $42 million senior note facility and $70 million in subordinated participating debt facility. 

Of the money already secured, $40.1 million is in Bahamian dollars, $194.9 is U.S. dollars and the remaining $30 million is available in either currency. 

Project Finance Magazine awarded Nassau Airport Development Company the Latin America Project Bond Deal of the Year for 2009.

In June, NAD officials closed on a $165 million deal to facilitate funding for stage two of the redevelopment project.

Transition Team

NAD is serving as project managers during construction and has teams dedicated solely to working on the project and the transition into the new facilities. 

Earlier this year, the company appointed three key managers to help lead the transition into the new U.S. departures terminal. 

The transition team managers are working with airport stakeholders including tenants, Bahamas Customs and Immigration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, contractors, airlines and other relevant agencies to create a working plan for the transition.

Before the scheduled opening, NAD will use hundreds of volunteers in mock travel exercises to test check-in and baggage collection process. 

World-Class Commitment

NAD is a Bahamian company owned by the Government of The Bahamas. The company has a 30-year lease to manage daily operations at the LPIA. Since taking control of the airport in 2007, NAD has invested more than $10.6 million in facility and service upgrades.

“Our mission is multi-faceted: to continue to run a safe, friendly and efficient airport while we plan and design new, sophisticated terminals for the future,” the company says. “Our goal is to build a world-class airport based on sound business principles; we are also committed to building business opportunities for Bahamians in all aspects of the airport: in retail, service contracts, maintenance, capital works and financing.”

The airport employs more than 145 employees in operations, maintenance, customer service, human resources and finance. Roughly 95 percent of the airport’s employees and 70 percent of its managers are Bahamian.

The company is committed to providing its staff with educational, training and coaching opportunities. A minimum of 40 hours of training is given to each employee per year. Staff members also take advantage of a combination of elective and mandatory training, including offsite training.

International Best Practices

NAD is responsible for most of the infrastructure at the airport, including parking lots, terminals, runways and taxiways. The company also manages all revenue-generating and commercial development projects there. As a private company, NAD receives no government guarantees or grants and is a self-sustaining commercial entity based on international best practices, according to the company.

NAD management team is provided under a 10-year agreement with Vancouver Airport Services (YVRAS), a Canadian company. YVRAS also has an agreement to oversee the redevelopment project.

YVRAS operates 18 airports worldwide with more than $440 million in revenue and more than 25 million passengers a year. “Our biggest management asset is our teams of seasoned and highly qualified industry specialists located around the world that manage, operate, develop and market our global network of airports on a daily basis,” the company says. “We constantly draw on their years of experience to ensure that all our airports remain commercially successful and at the cutting-edge of industry developments and best practices.” 

In addition to airport management, YVRAS provides other services to its clients. These include airport investment; marketing and air service development; retail planning, implementation and management and environmental management and planning.

YVRAS is also capable of providing terminal and airside planning and design; information technology and passenger facilitation; technical and service training; technical and service training and business development, according to the company.

The company has been involved in the construction or expansion of 14 airport terminals.YVRAS was selected in 2007 by the British Columbia Ministry of Economic Development and Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters as the British Columbia Export Company of the Year in the professional services category.

Customer Focus

NAD strives to give visitors a positive experience through not only its facilities, but also in its customer service, the company says.

Recent service upgrades include the establishment of a 24-hour Operations Centre, which responds to public inquiries as well as dispatches calls from tenants, airlines, concierges and airside specialists. 

“The center ensures that all calls are diverted appropriately for a quick response,” the company says. “Essentially, the Operations Centre is the one-stop shop for all of our customers.”

Concierges, airside specialists and maintenance teams update the center throughout the course of the day and work together to ensure the airport is managed and operated efficiently, the airport adds.

The airport also recently implemented customer satisfaction surveys. The surveys, conducted twice a year, re­f­lect an overall im­p­rove­ment in satisfaction in the last few years.

“Providing a uni­quely Bahamian experience is our goal for each and every person who visits the airport, whether they are a tour­ist, a business trav­eler or a local resident,” the company maintains. “By reflecting the beauty of the islands in our facilities and the warmth of our culture in our custo­mer services, the airport can deliver on its commitment to create a local sense of place and a memorable and positive experience.” 

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