Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, which has been named the Leading Airport in the Caribbean by World Travel Awards for 14 years, is about to become a world-class facility via a major modernization and upgrading project. Stakeholders and business interests expect the airport’s transformation will result in providing features on par with those in developed nations.
Some of the developments that will bring the airport to a world-class level include the expansion of the runway built at a cost of US$70 million, the opening of the first Bob Marley/One Love-branded restaurant in the world, expansion of the immigration hall and departure lounge, and upgrades of landside roads, parking arrangements, and outbound security. According to Delano Seiveright, the senior strategist in Jamaica’s Tourism Ministry, when all the projects are completed, Sangster will compare with London’s Heathrow and airport facilities in Atlanta, JFK, Qatar, and Dubai.
Seiveright added that guests flying into Jamaica will immediately experience a “wow” factor. MBJ Airports Limited, the operator of the airport that links Jamaica will over 60 global destinations, should be praised for the work and vision making all this possible, he said, noting that the Bob Marley One Love restaurant and the extension to the runway will be “something else.”
Shane Munroe, CEO of MBJ, said the plan does not only modernize the airport but makes it so appealing at an aesthetic level that it will take actually function as an attraction itself. Sangster is the busiest gateway to Jamaica and the top airport in the region with some 4.7 million passengers using the facility in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down. MBJ is committed to raising the bar for the airport in order to facilitate a seamless experience for travelers. Munroe also noted additional work being done to modernize Sangster and improve its infrastructure, including enhanced queuing and processing capacity through an expansion of the immigration hall and the construction of a lounge to provide dedicated arrivals space for air-to-sea passengers. The landside road and parking infrastructure are also slated for expansion to raise their capacity.
According to Munroe, the runway expansion is on schedule and is to be finished by June 2023. It will allow for Runway End Safety Areas to comply with requirements imposed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to improve safety in the area.