The Barbados Government has decided to postpone the tender process for its proposed public-private partnership (PPP) to run Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA).

The government will now put out tenders in April to accommodate ‘new realities’ in the aviation industry amid the pandemic, reported BNamericas.

Under the PPP, the government will hold the infrastructure’s ownership while the winning operator will be provided a concession of up to 30 years to develop, operate and maintain the airport.

Earlier, Barbados prequalified 13 bidders from Europe, South Korea, Latin America and Canada.

The qualifying firms included Brazil’s Companhia de Participações em Concessões (CPC), Jamaica’s Eppley and Jamaica Producers Group in a consortium with France’s EGIS, the Dominican Republic’s Corporación Aeroportuaria del Este SAS (CAE), Jamaica’s Williams Industries in a consortium with France’s Vinci, and Mexican operators GAP and OMA.

Minister of Tourism and International Transport Senator Lisa Cummins was quoted by BNamericas as saying: “We remain focused on the GAIA PPP to mobilise private sector investment and expertise, redevelop and upgrade the infrastructure and facilitate the redesign of the airport for the new realities of the aviation industry. This, while strategically retaining ownership of our airport.”

Cummins also said that the government is aiming to develop the aviation sector and the regulatory framework to attain Category I status for GAIA under the US Federal Aviation Administration’s standards.

The original idea for the tender was established in October 2018.

The investment will be used to expand the airport to 30,000m², which will improve efficiency.

In the same month, Caribbean Development Bank also approved a $40.4m loan for expanding the airport and increasing the institutional capacity, as well as reducing its energy consumption.

The contract will be awarded based on the outcome of the evaluation of bids against the pre-established criteria.