Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport
|Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport|
|Serves||British Virgin Islands|
|Focus city for||InterCaribbean Airways|
|Elevation AMSL||16 ft / 5 m|
Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport (IATA: EIS, ICAO: TUPJ), previously known as Beef Island Airport, is the main airport serving the British Virgin Islands, a British overseas territory in the Caribbean. The airport serves as the gateway to just about all of the islands within the BVI. The airport is also a gateway for inter-Caribbean travelers headed to the nearby U.S. Virgin Islands. Many travellers fly into Beef Island, with the intention of taking a ferry to the other smaller British Virgin Islands. The airport is located on Beef Island, a small island off the main island of Tortola, to which it is connected by the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge.
The Terrance B. Lettsome airport underwent a major $55 million renovation in 2004. After dredging was completed the runway was expanded to allow larger planes to operate into the airfield. This renovation was the largest capital project ever undertaken in the territory at that time. However, the airport currently does not receive any scheduled airline passenger jet service. The largest aircraft serving Tortola is the 64 passenger seat ATR-72 turboprop aircraft operated by Leeward Islands Air Transport (LIAT). Recently, Seaborne Airlines began operating Saab 340 turboprop aircraft into the airport.
Some of the highlights of the renovation and expansion project include:
- A new 46,000 sq ft (4,300 m2) terminal building
- An enlarged flight apron
- A new control tower
- 3,700 ft (1,128 m) runway extension
- New airport road with expanded parking (150 parking stalls)
There is a $20 departure tax for anyone over the age of five years.
In 2016 the Government announced an expansion of the airport to increase the runway size by 2,504 feet. This followed years of speculation and proposals; discussions about expansion and how to finance it were being undertaken in 2014. Although initial reports indicated that the United Kingdom had approved the necessary financial borrowing, later reports suggested that the UK's consent had been withheld in connection with concerns about the financial viability of the project. Under agreed financial protocols, external borrowing by the BVI Government needs to be approved by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
On 27 December 2016 the Government announced that the tender to expand the airport had been won by China Communications Construction Company. The Premier, Orlando Smith, said "Negotiations will now get underway with the preferred bidder with a view to concluding a contractual agreement within three months, which delivers the right outcome for the people of this territory." According to Government, the runway was proposed to be extended from 4,645 feet to approximately 7,100 feet, and would thereby allow mainline jetliner types such as Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A320 aircraft to fly directly to and from the continental United States and Latin America.
However, in June 2017 the Government appeared to confirm that the proposed runway expansion would not be going forward.
Airlines and destinations
Historically, in 1986 the airport had scheduled passenger jet service operated by British Caribbean Airways, with direct flights to Miami. British Caribbean operated a British Aerospace BAe 146-100 jetliner. This was only jet service operated into Tortola at that time.
The proposed return of jet service to Miami
Thirty years after the short-lived British Caribbean Airways offered jet service to Miami utilizing British Aerospace BAe 146-100 aircraft, Tortola based BVI Airways announced the start of new nonstop Miami service using Avro RJ100 jet airliners with this aircraft being a later version of the Bae 146 jet. However the new service never flew, and BVI Airways is now presumed to be defunct having laid off all of its staff shortly before Hurricane Irma stuck in 2017.
Air BVI was an airline based at the airport which operated scheduled passenger service from the early the 1970s to the mid 1990s with Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander and Douglas DC-3 prop aircraft as well as with Hawker Siddeley HS 748 turboprops during its existence. The regional air carrier served Anegada, Antigua, La Romana, Dominican Republic, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, San Juan and Virgin Gorda besides Tortola and also operated a small hub at the airport.
|Air Cargo Carriers||San Juan|
|Air Sunshine||Anguilla, Dominica, Nevis, St. Thomas, San Juan|
|DHL Aviation||St. Barthelemy|
operated by Mountain Air Cargo
Accidents and incidents
- On 5 April 1971, Douglas C-47A N57372 of Vinair was damaged beyond economic repair in a landing accident at Beef Island Airport. The aircraft was operating an international cargo flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
- On 6 May 1993, a Short 330 turboprop operated by Atlantic Air BVI overran the runway and landed in the sea after aborting on takeoff. It was a passenger flight, and all passengers and crew survived. The airframe was damaged beyond economic repair, and was sunk as a scuba diving site off Great Dog Island.
- On 18 July 2018 one person - the pilot - was killed in a fatal plane crash taking off from Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport. It was a private plane, and no other persons were aboard.
- Airport information for Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport at Great Circle Mapper. Source: DAFIF (effective October 2006).
- "BVI Outstation." Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority. Retrieved on 23 December 2012.
- "Airport Development Project To Be A "Game Changer"". GIS. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
- "Gov't picks model, to continue operate airport". BVI News. 26 January 2016.
- "Projected Cost Of Airport Expansion Not Coming Down - Legislator". Platinum News. 13 February 2014.
- "PEP & VIP Oppose Airport Expansion Project". The Island Sun. 1 November 2014.
- "UK agrees to 'affordable' airport project in BVI". BVI News. 21 January 2016.
- "UK raised concern about airport traffic, other plans". BVI News. 9 August 2016.
- "Chinese company selected for airport project". BVI News. 27 December 2016.
- "Airport Project Killed?". BVI Platinum. 13 June 2017.
- "Will BVI Airways ever fly? Date remain unknown on 'clear for take off'". Virgin Islands News Online. 19 December 2016.
The controversial bail out deal where a defunct airline that left owing the British Virgin Islands Airports Authority (BVIAA) close to US$100,000 is in the news again. The National Democratic Party (NDP) Government pumped some $7M of tax payers monies into the defunct BVI Airways, with a promise for direct flights between Miami, Florida, USA and the Terrence B. Lettsome International Airport at Beef Island. The public has been given three start dates for when the first flight was to commence; at the end of October 2016, the other end of November 2016 and the final December 2016. To date none of the dates have come to pass and the public, the media and the Opposition remain skeptical about the Government's investment on the taxpayers back.
- "We need money to fly – BVI Airways lays off staff". BVI News. 18 July 2017. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
- "N57372 Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 19 September 2010.
- "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
- "One Dead In Beef Island Plane Crash". BVI Platinum. 19 July 2018.