RAF Tornado crews, jumbo jets and royalty have been among this year’s visitors to LF Wade International Airport. *Photo by Robert Daniels
RAF Tornado crews, jumbo jets and royalty have been among this year’s visitors to LF Wade International Airport. *Photo by Robert Daniels

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 7: As the skies over the Atlantic get busier the role played by LF Wade International becomes more important.

In 2013 more than 90,000 aircraft will fly through Bermuda airspace as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) looks to find ways of de-congesting the corridor along the east coast of the United States.

The airport’s prime location not only means that more planes will be sent its way but also makes it ideal for monitoring rockets sent up into space.

This will bring the return of NASA in 2012 in the form of a mobile tracking centre out near Clearwater.

It has the added benefit of an educational outreach programme for local schools.

Mr Adderley told the Sun: “The machinery is already in place down at the Clearwater end of the airport and the agreement is readied for signature.

“The airport provides NASA with a great view of the trajectory of the rocket and unobstructed views of the southern skies.

“The return of NASA will also provide a number of ancillary benefits to the island including the outreach programme they run which is designed to educate children about space exploration.

“This is definitely one of the most exciting projects that we are involved in at the moment.

“We are very happy to be a part of that.”

Mr Adderley said LF Wade International’s unique location; extensive radar equipment and other navigational aid equipment had helped it become an important contributor to the FAA.

He added: “The FAA is constantly looking for more efficient ways of controlling air travel and Bermuda plays a vital role in realizing that objective.

“Airspace in the north east corridor of the US is the most congested in the world so the FAA are sending a lot of the traffic our way.

“The importance of the airport has increased as a direct result of the increased traffic.”

Meanwhile a number of improvements to the airport are expected to come to fruition in 2012.

The Senate has just passed legislation for a duty-free shop in the arrivals area.

The Bermuda Airport (Duty Free Sales) Amendment Act 2011 means cigarettes, cigars, tobacco, spirits and wine can be bought when travellers arrive in Bermuda.

While the first class lounge in the America-bound departures area should also be further improved for airport passengers.

Mr Adderley said: “With an ageing facility and financial resources being limited we have to be creative in engaging our private partners and making it attractive for them to re-invest in the infrastructure to benefit our passengers.

Duty free

“A Bermuda duty free in the arrivals hall depends on private investment and we are anxious to move forward now that the legislation has been passed.

“As far as the first class lounge is concerned we were disappointed none of the airlines were prepared to invest any resources — but a number of them are closing lounges throughout their network so it is understandable.

“We know there is a section of the community that travels first class and they have expectations.

“We have found an overseas company which will manage the lounge but it will be staffed by Bermudians

“The lounge is already in use, but with the new vendor in place, it will offer food and beverage options for the first time.

“This is something we have longed to have in place and should be ready by summer.

There are also plans to turn the old Heliport building at the entrance to the airport into a new retail experience for the public as well as airport users.