Barbados’ Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) achieved a noteworthy milestone early in the winter season, marking its busiest day thus far. The accomplishment was highlighted by GAIA’s Chief Executive Officer, Hadley Bourne, on Thursday, November 16, 2023. Bourne expressed optimism, observing the bustling Departure lounge and a similarly busy Arrivals hall, and remarked, “We’re hopeful that there will be many other days like this for the season.”
This surge in activity, occurring earlier than usual in the winter season, prompted Bourne to share insights into what the overall season might hold for Barbados. He explained, “It’s early days in the winter season; normally we would not reach our peak capacity for the busiest day until December. This is an indication of what the winter season and tourist season might be looking like for Barbados this year.”
Describing the significance of the ‘busiest day’ designation, Bourne emphasized, “This afternoon is going to be the busiest for the season thus far, with all of our parking positions on the apron being utilized.” He expressed concern about the impact of schedule variations or delays, stating, “We’re anticipating just over 3,000 passengers during the peak period, which will run roughly between 2 pm and 4 pm.”
While ‘the busiest day’ was historically a badge of honor, Bourne shared a hopeful perspective that the current trend might continue. He envisioned, “Instead of having a peak day, we’ll have a lot of days that are pretty much similar to today, with thousands passing through the space, almost reaching standing room only at some Gates in the Departure lounge.”
Addressing potential operational challenges arising from the increased numbers, Bourne reframed them as “operational changes.” He recounted an incident involving a JetBlue plane experiencing technical issues, which was resolved by bringing in an additional aircraft to handle the affected passengers. Despite minor disruptions, Bourne stated, “All in all, so far so good, even with the slight rain and precipitation.”
The winter season officially commenced on November 3, with both commercial passengers and approximately 3,000 to 4,000 air-to-sea passengers contributing to the bustling activity at GAIA. Bourne highlighted the anticipated challenges associated with air-to-sea operations on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, emphasizing the need for strategic timing and operational coordination.
Bourne assured that despite the potential challenges, plans were in place to manage the influx during peak times. He acknowledged the operational challenge on infrastructure, with GAIA designed to handle a specific passenger volume per hour. To address this, he mentioned ongoing efforts to repurpose the Concorde facility to assist during peak air-to-sea traffic, with implementation expected later in December.
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