Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA), (IATA: BGI, ICAO: TBPB) is found in Seawell, Christ Church on the island of Barbados. The former name of the airport was Seawell Airport before being dedicated in honour of the first Premier of Barbados, Sir Grantley Herbert Adams in 1976. The airport's timezone is GMT –4, and is located in World Area Code region #246 (by the U.S. Department of Transportation).
Grantley Adams Airport has direct service to destinations in the United States, Canada, Central America, South America and Europe and operates as a major gateway to the Eastern Caribbean. The airport is a second hub for Leeward Islands Air Transport (LIAT).
Overview and geography
The Grantley Adams International Airport lies 12.9 km (8 mi.) from the centre of the capital city Bridgetown, in an area officially known as Seawell. This is contrary to most informational services stating the airport as being located inside the capital city.
The terrain around the airport is relatively flat and quite suburban. The airport lies in the south-eastern portion of parish of Christ Church, close to the southern tip of the entire island. The airport is provided with easy access to the ABC Highway/highway 7 heading towards the capital and locations to the north and west coast of the island.
The Grantley Adams Airport also serves as the main air-transportation hub for the Eastern Caribbean. The airport has recently undergone a multi-phase US$100 million upgrade and expansion by the government, which added a brand new arrivals hall adjacent to the prior arrivals/departures terminals. Construction was made slightly more complicated due to the fact that the airport has to remain open for up to 16 hours per day. The Airport's current infrastructure is supposed to meet the needs of Barbados until at least 2015. The phase III construction project, which is yet to be completed will see changes made to the airplane parking configuration at the airport.
Currently parking is available outside the airport at a rate of Bds$2.00 per hour or a maximum rate Bds$12.00 daily.
Runway and taxi-ways
The Airport has a single east-westerly runway, connected by five taxiway intersections with the aircraft parking area which is adjacent to the main terminals. As a result of the earths' tradewinds that blow from the Atlantic Ocean across Barbados from the east, all planes usually land and take-off in an easterly direction. This results in a typical flight path for arriving aircraft along the west coast of Barbados, while departing flights usually fly along the east coast of the island. On relatively rare but not uncommon occurrences, some weather disturbances, such as passing hurricanes or tropical systems, may cause planes to take off or land in a westerly direction such as on 29 August 2010.
Air transportation at the site of present day airport, then known as Seawell Airport, goes back as far as the late 1930s. In 1939 a plane from the Royal Netherlands Airlines landed on the airport site. At the time there was merely a grassy strip as the runway. The strip was paved some time later and in 1949 the first Terminal building was built on the site, to replace a shed that was being used until then. This ushered in the Airport being formally known as the Seawell Airport.
During the 1960s the eastern flight-range just south-east of the airport became known as Paragon. This area of the airport became the initial base of a High Altitude Research Project known as Project HARP, Project HARP was jointly sponsored by McGill University in Canada and the United States military.
In 1983, the U.S.-sponsored invasion of Grenada prompted the United States to form yet another agreement with Barbados. As part of the deal, the U.S. expanded a part of the current airport infrastructure. This prepared the Grantley Adams Airport to be used as a base. The U.S. military oversaw the upgrading of the Airport runway in order for it to handle larger U.S. military aircraft on their way to neighbouring Grenada. As part of the plan to maintain lasting stability in Grenada, the United States also assisted in the establishment of the Regional Security System (RSS) at the eastern Grantley Adams airport flight-rage. The R.S.S. was (and still is) a security unit focused on providing security for the Eastern Caribbean.
The Grantley Adams International Airport, as it is known today, handles most large aircraft including Boeing 747s. The airport was also one of the few destinations in the world where British Airways' Concorde aircraft made regularly-scheduled flights, and also for repairs, before Concorde was retired. Concorde typically flew to Barbados during the busy UK-Barbados winter season. The flight time of Concorde from the United Kingdom to Barbados was less than 4 hours.
2000-2006 Expansion project
Since the Grantley Adams International Airport had become a relatively busy airport for such a small island, and based on the fact that future air traffic to the facilities is expected to increase, the Government of Barbados commenced a US$100 million programme to revamp the Airport's current infrastructure.
Phase I, which is now complete, saw an upgrading of the Runways, taxiways, parking aprons, and approach lighting. This phase also included the Government of Barbados acquiring private land adjacent to the landing strip in order to bring the airport into compliance with new international aviation regulations.
Phase II (also complete), included adding a brand new arrivals terminal adjacent to the current building; moving arrivals from the current terminal, renovating the current terminal as a departures facility, and bringing the airport infrastructure current for the new millennium.
On 01 June 2007, the Bds$1.7 million Club Caribbean Executive Lounge and Business Centre was opened as an added amenity for business travellers. The centre contains 5,000 Sq. ft. and is located on the mezzanine level. The centre is meant to be used by special customers of several airlines at the terminal.
The Phase III expansion planned had to wait until the completion of the 2007 Cricket World Cup, it envisions the addition of new airport terminal Jetway (gates), new spacious departure lounges much closer to the airplanes and air bridges to make connections at the facility much easier. Also nearing completion is the expanded duty free shopping area and restaurants for travellers.
New Arrivals building
After the expansion project, the airport's Arrivals facility was moved to a separate brand-new building adjacent to the previous structure. This allowed the Departures area to occupy much of the previous shared structure.
Terminals, airlines and destinations
The Sir Grantley Adams International Airport has two terminal buildings designed to appear to be one single continuous structure. The first structure and oldest is the current departures terminal. Prior to the 2000-2006 expansion project, this single terminal building housed both the arrivals and departures facilities. Both sections were divided in two with a few duty free shops and an open-air area in the middle of the airport with trees and other greenery which was open to both halves of the terminal. The new translucent membrane that towers over the airport shows the place where the old terminal was split in two. Additionally the same membrane tent design over the building also covers the gap between the old and new terminal and gives the appearance of both buildings being a single long building.
The following airlines serve the following destinations:
In 2010, a private sector envoy announced an intention to base a start-up airline at the Sir Grantley Adams airport. Media reports indicate that the name of the company is AIRONE Ventures Limited (AVL), and the air venture will seek to form "the Caribbean's first low-cost carrier". The envoy, mainly from Ireland, had initially attempted to begin operations from Jamaica however, Jamaican aviation authorities reportedly rejected their application for licenses. Following this, the envoy shifted focus basing operations from Barbados' airport. The partnership is said to have begun as a partnership of a handful of business executives from Jamaica-based Digicel. The airline is also said to have begun seeking approval of U.S. authorities to fly to that market.The airline is currently looking to start operations on December 1st 2010. After 3 months of dedicated service the airline plans to service Fort Lauderdale and other US destinations. The airline is currently in the hiring and training of employees stage.
Besides the Arrivals and Departures terminals, the Sir Grantley Adams International Airport also included provisions for a new cargo building in the 2000-2006 expansion project. The cargo needs of the airport include timely postal services in addition to various airline support. The cargo facility is located on the western end of the airport next to the new Arrivals building.
Incidents & Accidents
To the east of the main Sir Grantley Adams Airport is the 8534 m² site of the British Airways Concorde Museum on the old Spencers Plantation. The museum is part of the new proposed expanded airport grounds. British Airways had granted the Government of Barbados one of their retired Concorde aircraft and BAC/SNIAS Concorde 212 G-BOAE is now on permanent display in a dedicated hall. The Q2 company had entered a museum and exhibition facility design to the Government of Barbados for this new permanent housing of the aircraft. The 'Concorde Experience' as a whole has a number of zones providing information on the aircraft.
On 2 November 1977 G-BOAE was the same aircraft that Queen Elizabeth II travelled flying from GAIA to London Heathrow, England.
In popular culture
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