The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a series of Caribbean Regional Air Transport Connectivity Projects in four countries for a total of US$159 million, to enhance regional connectivity by improving the safety of air transport and the resilience of the airport infrastructure to natural disasters. These projects include International Development Association (IDA) financing of US$13 million for Dominica, US$17 million for Grenada, US$84 million for Haiti, and US$45 million for Saint Lucia. These countries are reliant on the air transport sector and face common connectivity issues. The projects will enable countries to better accommodate diverted flights, emergency landings, and post-disaster relief flights, and improve regional capacity and collaboration in the sector.
“This series of three projects aims to increase the safety and the overall resilience of key connection points in the Eastern Caribbean,” said Tahseen Sayed, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean. “The World Bank’s first financing of airport projects in the Caribbean will also facilitate connectivity and support countries during the COVID-19 recovery phase.”
“In Haiti, the project will modernize air transport infrastructure and support critical improvements in safety, resilience, and regulatory oversight,” said Anabela Abreu, World Bank Country Director for Haiti. “The project is important to COVID-19 recovery efforts, as Haiti’s economy will benefit from enhanced connectivity and resilience.”
In Dominica, the project aims to improve safety and airport resilience readiness to natural disasters, and to strengthen the capacity of agencies handling air transportation operations and airport investment planning. Navigation and safety equipment will be improved, enabling emergency landing in case of natural disasters and increasing capacity in air traffic control, wildlife management, airport management and planning.
The Grenada project will support increased safety and efficiency of airport operations and navigation, make climate resilience improvements, and strengthen the country’s capacity in civil aviation and airport management. This includes installation of air navigation and safety equipment at the main international airport, construction of a runway end safety area and a resilient air cargo facility, and preparation of an aviation sector strategic plan.
In Haiti, the project aims to increase operational safety, improve navigation, and enhance the resilience of infrastructure to natural disasters to ensure continuity of essential supply chains and health emergency services. Infrastructure investments include rehabilitation of the runway in Cap Haitien, construction of a taxiway in Port au Prince, installation of modern air traffic monitoring and control systems, and improvements to airfield drainage aimed at reducing the risk of flooding. Technical assistance includes skills training and measures to support women’s employment in the air transport sector.
The project for Saint Lucia aims to improve operational safety and navigation and enhance the resilience of airport infrastructure to natural disasters. This will include improvements to the runway of the Hewanorra International Airport and its associated facilities, such as runway-end safety areas, airfield drainage, and crash and fire rescue facilities. Activities will also include installation of modernized air navigation systems, and institutional strengthening in air traffic control and management.
Financing for these projects comes from IDA. Haiti will receive a grant, and the three Eastern Caribbean islands will receive concessional financing with a maturity of 40 years, including a grace period of ten years.