The agreements with two renowned French companies to modernise Havana’s José Martí International Airport will meet the urgent needs of the travel and tourism industry, and give continuity to recent steps to expand cooperation between Cuba and France. Early this month the Cuban authorities granted to Bouygues Batiment International and Paris Airports the right to respectively expand and manage the Cuban capital’s airport.
The deal includes another installation close to Havana: the airport of San Antonio de los Baños, in Artemisa.
With these agreements, the government is resolving one of the weaknesses of the extra-hotel infrastructure which has been threatened with checking the strong expansion of tourism in the country for a few years now. The official press release of the Transportation Ministry recognised the need for this step.
“The current growth in passengers arriving from abroad, as well as that expected in upcoming years, led to assessing new alternatives to access financing and better practices on an international level to carry out the modernisation and expansion of José Martí airport, through which more than 50 per cent of international passengers arrive.”
With more than 15 years of experience in Cuba, the Bouygues business group has participated in the construction of important hotels, like Playa Pesquero, the largest in the country, located in the Holguín tourist destination, east of the island. Now it is also working in hotels in Varadero and the capital. For the development of a monumental work, in execution in the historic centre of Havana, the Manzana Hotel, the French firm has hired construction technicians and workers from India.
Meanwhile, the Paris Airports Company will take care of managing the Havana and Artemisa airports. Cuba chose this company for its experience and prestige in the operation of important airports in France and other countries, Deputy Transport Minister Eduardo Rodríguez explained.
With this alliance, the island is seeking to introduce the best practices in the management of airports in the world and to raise the standards in servicing passengers, crews and aircraft, Rodríguez said during a press conference.
The French company chosen during the tender process will manage the Cuban airports through the concession modality. The deputy minister specified that Cuba will conserve the ownership of the means and installations and the installations to be built. The State will also maintain under its control the regulatory activities: Customs, Immigration and Operational Security.
Though the definitive contract for the expansion and management of both airports will be signed next year, Cuba agreed with the French companies to immediately start the works that improve the quality and speed in the arrival and dispatch of luggage, in the international as well as national flights terminals.
“The project,” the official release confirms, “envisages the financing and execution of immediate actions to improve the quality of the services, as well as investments in the mid and long terms according to the estimated growth in passengers.”
The deputy minister told the press that as part of the island’s foreign investment strategy the Cuban government has also chosen the airports of Varadero, Santa Clara, the cays to the island’s north and Holguín to negotiate similar agreements in the future. (2016)
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