SHG announced today (23 July, 2012) that the first Variation Order under the Airport Project has been signed. The Variation Order sets out changes to the runway design that will give the Island the flexibility in the future to easily extend the runway to cater for larger aircraft, such as the Boeing 737-800 and Airbus 320.
Janet Lawrence, St Helena Access Project Manager spoke at a press conference at The Castle, on Monday 23 July. “I’m sure you’re all aware that the contract signed last November related to the construction of a 1550 metre runway,” said Lawrence, “capable of landing Boeing 737-700 aircraft or similar, which carry around 120 passengers. The variation order provides for an extra 100 metres of concrete runway and widening the ends of the runway. Essentially it allows us to revise the contract design for the runway, slightly, so we have the flexibility in the longer term to easily be able to expand the runway to be able to cater for larger size planes, such as a Boeing 737-800 which carries around 160 passengers.”
We won't be able to use the additional length for landing these larger aircraft until an Engineered Material Arresting System is added (EMAS, a form of collapsible concrete that will stop any over-running aircraft in a very short distance), but it is much more cost effective to do these preparatory works now than it would be in the future.
Deon De Jagger, the Basil Read Airport Project Manager, was also present at the press conference. “In terms of the construction of additional length, this doesn’t represent much change other than an increase in quantities,” said De Jagger. “The construction methods, machinery; everything still stays the same. It’s just a matter of additional quantities at the end of the day. It adds another 12 weeks to the regional planned contract completion date, so the new contract completion date sits at 25 February, 2016.”
The expectation is that this additional work will be carried out within DFID's existing budget for the airport.
Earlier in the day, HE Governor Capes made the following statement:
“This is an excellent development and demonstrates the long term vision that characterises the airport project. This gives the Island much greater flexibility in the future, and I would like to thank all those who have worked hard to bring about this design variation.”