Wed | Nov 29, 2023

Sangster kicks off winter tourist season with $1.6b departure lounge

Published:Friday | December 16, 2022 | 2:00 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
The new Margaritaville in the new departure lounge at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St James.
The new Margaritaville in the new departure lounge at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St James.


The tourism capital’s Sangster International Airport has unveiled an expanded central departures lounge, which was redone to the tune of $1.6 billion, on the eve of the start of Jamaica’s winter tourist season.

The redevelopment work consisted of renovating a 12-metre-high Rotunda double-height space, with a floor-to-ceiling curtain wall and the renovation of over 4,000 square metres of space, a large lounge, and a food court.

The official opening was held on Wednesday, under a project dubbed ‘Sense of Place’, which was conceptualised in 2017 to ensure that MBJ incorporated the island’s look and feel in the design.

“This departure lounge offers more seating, better natural light, entertainment, and new and exciting retail offerings. The shops are more attractive and easily accessible, offering high-quality items and creating a memorable experience for passengers enjoying their last moments in Jamaica with architecture that blends aspects of Jamaica into the creative design,” MBJ Airports Limited CEO Shane Munroe boasted.

He spoke of the benefits extended to the passenger experience, with open spaces for circulation and a larger baggage make-up area on the ground floor.

According to Munroe, it is a space that MBJ is proud of and one that will not be found elsewhere in the Caribbean.

“We want our passengers, our guests, to feel that they are in Jamaica and that their vacation continues at this airport. As passengers traverse through the airport, they should have a powerful and unique experience of Jamaica, with the airport serving as a platform where distinctive cultural and natural elements of this beautiful country enact a sense of place in Jamaica,” he noted.

Sangster International Airport, he said, remains the gateway for tourism to Jamaica, and the pearl of Montego Bay for infrastructure development.

“MBJ has invested over US$280 million in airport infrastructure ... even during the pandemic, while the country was on lockdown,” Munroe said, adding that the benefits of that investment are being realised by passengers as the recovery in traffic occurs.

“Every step of the customer journey on arrival and departure is an opportunity to win the heart of a visitor so that they will choose to visit Jamaica over and over again,” he added,

MBJ commenced expansion of the departures area during the height of the pandemic, completing the process of evaluating 110 proposals. The airport operators then worked tirelessly with the successful proponents to build out the space.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Audley Shaw said MBJ continues to raise the bar of service in the region as the organisation shared the vision to bring Jamaica into the 21st century.

“This airport is expecting to see substantial growth in non-aeronautical revenue contributed by these retail shops that have chosen to partner with one of the leading airports in the region. The fact that we are having this advantage in the new food court is a testament to the direction we are heading for business development is another key milestone,” Shaw said.

“This new edition brings the same things we see internationally into a whole new league. I am excited to see the direction we are heading,” he added.

Eighty per cent of the shops in the airport are owned and operated by local business investors.