Work on the new airport terminal is in its final push towards a scheduled midsummer construction completion.
About 300 people are working on the site as the $250 million project nears completion.
Dave Westwood, construction manager for Aecon, the general contractor, said: “We don’t have a fixed date for the opening, but we’re on schedule.
“We have some finishing work to do and all the systems and equipment have to be tested and commissioned.”
After the completion of construction work, the opening date will depend on how long the testing and commissioning takes — probably about a couple of months, according to Aecon.
A total of 31 Bermudian subcontractors are among the companies to have worked with Aecon on the project.
Mr Westwood explained that testing was scheduled this week for the six telescopic bridges, the walkways that will connect to the doorways of aircraft and give passengers protection from the elements on their way into the terminal.
Tenants for the restaurants, bars and retail outlets will also be asked this week to start work on their spaces. Aecon granted The Royal Gazette’s request for a tour of the building and it was clear that airline passengers will get a very modern experience.
Road access to the new-look airport will be from the same roundabout as is used today.
Trees have been moved from the old terminal site and replanted as part of the landscaping work in front of the new building.
A large pond will not only be decorative, but will also take the overflow from the water tank that will collect rainfall from the terminal roof for use inside the building.
Passengers scheduled to leave from the airport will see 23 “smart” check-in desks, designed for use by different airlines depending on demand and clusters of self check-in kiosks, some of which have already been installed, will take the weight off the lines.
The terrazzo-tiled floor has been laid, but was still under protective covers as work continued.
Departing passengers’ route through the airport will be marked by decorative longtails suspended from the ceiling — incoming travellers will follow kites. Mr Westwood said: “It’s all part of the effort to create a sense of place.”
Dropped-off bags will be taken to the right place in an automated process, involving conveyor belts and scanners.
The system, made by Glide path, a New Zealand company, reads baggage tags to direct luggage along belts to the right aircraft.
Luggage is simultaneously scanned for security purposes.
If the system detects anything suspicious, the bags are diverted to an area where staff will be able to make further checks before clearing the bags to continue their journey.
Travellers in the security area will find four belt scanners and two body scanners, all of which have yet to be installed.
Mr Westwood added that shoe removal and laptop examinations will no longer be necessary, thanks to state-of-the-art technology.
The US Immigration pre-clearance area will be past security to the left and the stairway and elevator to the international departure lounge, for those travelling to all non-US destinations, will be on the right.
The departure lounges stretch the length of the building from north to south, with fixed seating, retail outlets and a restaurant with outdoor seating area at each end.
Mr Westwood said the sizes of the US and international lounges were adjustable.
He explained that if a cluster of flights were US-bound, for example, the US lounge could be extended to up to 70 per cent of the total area by using sliding panels to wall off appropriate areas.
High-tech systems should also give incoming travellers a smoother experience passing through the new airport.
A total of six “e-gates”, with passport scanners and glass doors, are about to be installed in the arrivals hall, which will automate the passport control with a system similar to the one used at London’s Gatwick Airport.
The façade of the new terminal is designed to stand up against sustained winds of more than 170mph.
AMENDMENT: This article has been amended to make clear that the construction work will be completed by midsummer, but opening of the new terminal will take place only after testing and commissioning of equipment and systems, which could take an additional two months.