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  • Virgin Islands Port Authority

VIPA Releases Airports P3 Project RFQ at Joint Press Conference with Governor Albert Bryan Jr.

The Virgin Islands Port Authority officially released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) yesterday soliciting potentially qualified firms to engage in the public-private partnership development of the airports to submit proposals for the airport infrastructure financing, terminal redevelopment, operations, and maintenance at the Cyril E. King Airport in St. Thomas (CEKA) and the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport in St. Croix (HERA). USVI Assistant Tourism Commissioner Alani Henneman, VIPA Board Chairman Willard John, VIPA Executive Director Carlton Dowe, and Governor Albert Bryan Jr. spoke in support of the project that is expected to provide a means to expand and modernize the U.S. Virgin Islands’ airports.


The RFQ is soliciting firms that are interested in the project to provide their qualifications to undertake the modernization of the Territories’ airports and to share VIPA’s vision and priorities. VIPA’s list of priorities listed in the RFQ include:


  • Partnering with a world-class airport operator that will be a committed corporate and social partner with VIPA and more generally in the USVI.

  • Partnering with a world-class airport operator that has experience operating airports with a minimum of one million annual enplanements.

  • Redeveloping CEKA and HERA to include bespoke and modern airport amenities that enhance the customer experience.

  • Designing and redeveloping CEKA and HERA to satisfy minimum LEED Silver standards and the USVI’s building code requirements for resiliency.

  • Enhancing travelers’ options by adding new routes.

  • Increased cargo activity at both airports.

  • The selected operator will perform Part 139 inspections on behalf of VIPA and ensure compliance with FAA requirements.

  • The selected operator will negotiate future airline lease and use agreements as well as concession agreements with new tenants.

  • Providing passenger jet bridges.

  • Partnering with a developer and operator that places a high value on its human capital.

  • Providing enhanced local business opportunities during the redevelopment and operational phases.

  • Accounting for appropriate risk transfer to the selected operator.

  • The RFQ also establishes the participation criteria for the procurement process for the proposed public-private partnership.

USVI Assistant Commissioner of Tourism Alani Henneman-Todman lauded the project as having the potential to serve as the impetus for revitalizing the USVI’s tourism product, “This venture is very important for us at the Virgin Islands Department of Tourism as we continue to strengthen our overnight presence in the market.” Henneman-Todman said that recent meetings at Routes International with airline officials have confirmed that the territory is under high demand, but that the USVI needs to revamp and renovate as a destination to match the changes in the current airline industry.


VIPA Board Chairman John stated that the Port Authority receives numerous pleas from visitors and residents to upgrade both the HERA and CEKA terminals. Director Dowe stressed that the vehicular and terminal congestion, outdated facilities, and unpleasant conditions of the airport terminals are detrimental to the departure and arrival experience. However, the Port Authority does not have the capital resources to improve the territory’s airports – estimated to cost over $100 million for each terminal, he said. Dowe added, “The world is not waiting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. The time to act is now.”


Dowe provided the following outline for the Airports P3 Project (subject to change):

  • December 28, 2022 - VIPA issues a Request for Qualifications (RFQ)

  • January 12, 2023 - Deadline to Respond to the Invitation to the Industry Forum

  • February 1, 2023 - Industry Forum and Airport Tours, St. Thomas

  • February 2, 2023 - Industry Forum and Airport Tours, St. Croix

  • March 16, 2023 - Statement of Qualifications due date

  • April 2023 Board Meeting - VIPA Board selects short-listed respondents (no more than 4 firms)

  • May 2023 - VIPA will issue a Request for a Proposal (RFP)

  • December 2023 - VIPA will issue a recommendation of a Preferred Proposer

  • January 2024 Board Meeting - VIPA Board selects Preferred Proposer

  • 1st Quarter of 2024 - Notice to Proceed for environmental permitting, design, and construction to be issued to the selected firm

  • 4th Quarter of 2024 - Groundbreaking of airport terminals construction

  • Early 2027 - Opening of new terminals

Governor Bryan said that his Administration is in full support of the project. “What we do for the future is very relevant. We must be open to leveraging dollars and real estate in the private sector to create opportunities and a better experience not only for our visitors but for our residents,” he said.


After VIPA’s review of the Statements of Qualifications, and assuming VIPA decides to proceed, VIPA will establish a shortlist of no more than four of the most highly qualified respondents. VIPA intends to select one of the qualified respondents to enter into two related agreements covering both Airports: (i) a long-term lease and development agreement for the terminal facilities and (ii) a long-term operation and maintenance agreement for airfield and landside operations.


VIPA engaged advisors including Frasca & Associates, LLC as the P3 and Financial Advisor, Mayer Brown LLP as the Transaction Legal Advisor, Law Offices of Jennifer Jones and Law Office of Trudy Fenster, P.C. as the Local Counsel, Paslay Group as the Technical Advisor, Public Strategies Group as the Local Communication Advisor.


For more information regarding VIPA’s Airports P3 Project visit www.vipaairportsp3.com.


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Link to watch the Press Conference (recorded live 28 Dec 2022): https://fb.watch/hJw9BArU0S/

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