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Grand Cayman’s Airport gets the ‘royal’ treatment

It’s onwards and upwards for the Owen Roberts International Airport. As the terminal redevelopment and expansion project rounded to completion in 2019, a new airfield upgrade project takes flight.


“We have brought a level of excellence to our passengers’ experience, but our transformation does not stop there as every day we are working together to improve and enhance the services and amenities we provide to our traveling public,” says Albert Anderson, Chief Executive Officer of the Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA), which owns and operates the terminal.

Humble beginnings

The original Owen Roberts International Airport (ORIA) facility, constructed in the early 1950s, was a minimalist wooden structure and served as the catalyst for the development of tourism and the financial services industry in the Cayman Islands. Rebuilt in 1984 with a larger and more robust terminal building, the airport took the country through the start of the tourism boom and was designed to handle a passenger throughput capacity of 500,000 per year. By 2013, there were nearly 1 million passengers per year traversing through ORIA, and it became apparent that redevelopment plans for the facility were critical to success and to help sustain the growing economy.

Owen Roberts International Airport and departures area in the mid-1950s.

A world-class facility

Construction for the airport terminal building redevelopment and expansion project began in October 2015 as the core of the CIAA’s Master Plan 2032 for delivering excellence in all its operations and was completed in July 2019. Owen Roberts International Airport has now grown from a fledgling wooden structure into a complex state-of-the-art facility that is designed to handle 2.5 million passengers per year. During the construction period of the new facility, some 5 million passengers departed and arrived at ORIA. To accommodate these ever- increasing passenger numbers today, the airport’s new footprint has almost tripled in size to 208,000 square feet from 77,000 square feet.

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The new Owen Roberts International Airport was completed in 2019 with the capacity to handle 2.4 million passengers per year.

A royal occasion

In March 2019, the new Owen Roberts International Airport terminal was officially opened by Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall on the occasion of their visit to the Cayman Islands. The Royals unveiled a commemorative plaque in front of the terminal’s refurbished façade as politicians, dignitaries, special guests and hundreds of well-wishers gathered for the ceremony.

Deputy Premier & Minister for District Administration, Tourism and Transport of the Cayman Islands The Hon. Moses Kirkconnell described the new facility as “The people’s airport” and stated, “It is a very gratifying day because our pledge to provide the Cayman Islands with a world-class airport has been fulfilled.”

Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall officially open the newly refurbished Owen Roberts International Airport on Grand Cayman with a plaque unveiling ceremony.

Enhancements on the horizon

In October 2019, the Cayman Islands Airports Authority signed a $30 million contract with IDL Projects Joint Venture for the ORIA Airfield Upgrade Project works. “With the successful completion of the airport’s redevelopment, we now turn our focus to implementing airfield upgrades, which are all part of the next phase of our Master Plan, bringing improvements in operations and safety standards at Owen Roberts International Airport,” said Albert Anderson, Chief Executive Officer of the CIAA.

The IDL Projects Joint Venture comprises three companies, which include leading company Island Paving, DECCO and IDL Projects. Island Paving and DECCO are Cayman based and operated, and IDL Projects is a Canadian based company that specialises in airport and infrastructure development.

“This newly formed partnership of the CIAA with IDL Projects Joint Venture brings focus to the continued airfield upgrades and further improvement of Cayman’s beloved airport, ORIA, for the people of the Cayman Islands,” said CIAA Chief Airport Operations Officer Wayne DaCosta.  

The Airfield Upgrade Project consists of five sub-projects, including the milling and re-paving of the existing runway surface, a runway extension, the filling of the ponds within the airfield perimeter, establishing a robust airfield perimeter road and expanding the aircraft parking ramp in an easterly direction to provide additional aircraft parking. 

The Project works commenced in November 2019 and are expected to take approximately eight months to complete. The apron work will be the first of the five sub-projects to begin, followed by the runway rehabilitation and extension beginning in January 2020.

$30 million contract signing of the Airport Airfield Upgrade project works with (Standing L-R): Chris Lennon, DECCO, Roy Williams, Senior Project Manager, Major Projects Office, PWD, Hon. Premier Alden McLaughlin, Hon. Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell, Stran Bodden, Chief Officer Ministry DAT&T and Peter Ranger, Chief Project Manager, Major Projects Office, PWD. (Seated L-R): Wayne DaCosta, Chief Airport Operations Officer, Cayman Islands Airports Authority and Barry Bodden, Island Paving/DECCO/IDL Projects JV Ltd.

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Name, description

Contact details

Cayman Islands Airports Authority

298 Owen Roberts Drive
Grand Cayman
Cayman Islands

Tel: +1 (345) 943-7070


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