Bahamas Shows Off New U.S. Departures Terminal

by Rebecca Dolan Subscribe to Rebecca Dolan's posts Posted Mar 1st 2011 01:30 PM



Thanks to a multi-million dollar airport facilities upgrade, flying into and out of the Bahamas promises to soon be a more pleasant experience. For American travelers specifically, that's due to a brand new U.S. departures terminal opening March 16.

Nassau's Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) is currently in the second phase of a $409.5 million redevelopment. The first stage of which was the construction of the new 247,000-square-foot U.S. departures terminal.

"I think many people find that the airport we have in the Bahamas did not reflect the quality that we want to project to the world in terms of our product," Minister of Tourism and Aviation Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace said. "This does."

A standout feature of the terminal -- shown off to visiting press over the weekend -- is a large U.S. customs area where passengers clear the customs process before leaving the Bahamas, so they don't have to when arriving back in the U.S.

According to the minister, the Bahamas is one of only five countries to offer this convenience.

The $198 million terminal also boasts new retail and food options and eco-friendly features.

Those waiting in the terminal can grab a bite at such familiar chains as Wendy's, Quiznos and Dunkin' Donuts or the Bahamian Kafe Kalik restaurant. Retail options include Uniquely Bahamian, The Last Straw, John Bull and Bahama Sol.

The greener airport incorporates such features as a large overhanging roof to reduce heat gain, a rainwater collection system for use in low-flush toilets, and an energy efficient cooling system.

The next stage of the project involves the conversion of the current U.S. terminal to a new U.S./international arrivals facility, a project to be completed in fall 2012. The final stage will be the construction of a new domestic terminal plus an international departures terminal set to open in 2013.

The completed airport will be more than 20% larger and should see 5.2 million passengers by 2020. In contrast, 3.2 million passengers passed through the Bahamas airport in 2008.

Vanderpool-Wallace said the airport is important to the future of the Bahamas, which he said draws tourists with more beaches, more islands and more territorial waters than the rest of the Caribbean combined.

"The only way we develop that business is through aviation and sea transportation. So, the whole idea of airports and aviation is critical."

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