Sangster International Airport
Sangster International Airport (IATA: MBJ, ICAO: MKJS) is an international airport located 3 mi (4.8 km) east of Montego Bay, Jamaica. The airport is capable of handling nine million passengers per year. It serves as the most popular airport for tourists visiting the north coast of Jamaica. The airport is named after former Jamaican Prime Minister Sir Donald Sangster.
Sangster International Airport
|Operator||MBJ Airports Ltd.|
|Serves||Montego Bay, Jamaica|
|Elevation AMSL||4 ft / 1 m|
Location in Jamaica
Sangster is run by a consortium called MBJ Airports Limited. The leading partner of the consortium is Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacífico while another partner is Vancouver Airport Services with a 2% stake. Sangster was privatised and turned over by Airports Authority of Jamaica to the consortium in 2003.
Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St. James, was first conceived in 1936 when the site now housing the Sangster International Airport was identified as one suitable for the construction of an airport in the town of Montego Bay. Originally named the Montego Bay Airport, a decision was made to build the runway in 1940, and the actual construction of the facility was completed on 18 February 1947. At the time of its completion, the town of Montego Bay was more like a playground for the rich and famous, and was considered then, one of the premier vacation spots within the Caribbean, just as it is today.
The first international airline to fly into the Montego Bay Airport was Pan American Airways (which eventually became Pan Am), and the airport, which in comparison to today's standards, was more like a small aerodrome, was operated by Pan American until 30 September 1949, when the Jamaican government took control of the facility. However, the Sangster International Airport, as known today, is nothing like it was in the early days. One of the most noticeable differences was that initially, the terminal building was on the northern side of the runway but was shifted to the southern side of the runway during one of the several upgrading exercises that took place at that facility, which was necessitated by the growth in air traffic over the years. Plans for the construction of a new terminal at its present location, on the southern side of the runway, were announced in July 1955. the plans for the new terminal building was part of what turned out to be a continued upgrading and restructuring of the facility, to enable it to cope with the growth in traffic. The original terminal was built and opened on 7 July 1959, with a capacity to accommodate 500 passengers per hour, and parking for seven aircraft at a time.
Divestment & Expansion
Over the years, the upgrading process was a continuous one, ultimately the facility had grown into the larger of the three international airports in Jamaica, handling approximately 3.7 million passengers per annum in 2007, and had seen an increase in passenger and aircraft movement in 2009. The management and partners of the airport have been trying to seek with passengers from Asia, but the project stalled in 2010. The airport is also trying receive more non-stop service from Brazil, but it has also been stopped, this time in 2013.
Since January 2001, plans have been executed to expand the airport to the status of a world-class airport. The new eastern concourse of the Sangster International Airport (SIA) (the result of phases 1A and 1B) was officially opened in December 2005. Phase two was then due to begin towards the end of 2006; however because the economic conditions were favourable and the tourist trade in Jamaica is increasing, phase two was brought forward to January 2006. MBJ still faces some challenges such as the restructuring of Air Jamaica.
A planned expansion of the main runway was in a preparation phase but due to the poor economic conditions,the runway expansion project was stopped in 2012 indefinitely. This expansion would have afforded the airport a fully functioning 10,000-foot (3,000 m) runway to accommodate large aircraft traffic. MBJ Airports Limited also commissioned a new customs hall, arrivals lobby and transportation center in March 2007. Since then, further expansion and renovation projects such as the relocation of the immigrations hall and duty-free mall have been launched and was completed in September 2008. this facility has increased the handling capacity to nine million passengers per annum. Plans are also in place for the relocation of the tower, domestic terminal and others.
In 2006, there was a change in management at the airport following the change in the consortium that operates this facility. Relations between the new management and unions have been difficult, with a strike in November 2007 and in November 2009.
The airport won the World Travel Awards "Caribbean's Leading Airport" for the years 2005, and 2009 to 2017.
Current & Future Expansion
Due to recent surges in passenger numbers and new routes being added, the airport consortium has taken on a number of project to rehabilitate the airport in order to cope with the added demand. The airport will be renovating its check-in area which had been left untouched since 2008, as well as re-paving the aprons, taxiway and runway. The airport also revamped its duty-free offerings and, in March 2018, welcomed three Starbucks outlets (part of Starbucks' first foray in the Jamaican market), complementing the already well-appointed airside offerings like Auntie Anne's, Quiznos, Nathan's, Dairy Queen, Moe's Southwest Grill and Wendy's to name a few. In March 2018, the airport announced its plan to revamp the airport's retail area to enhance the customer experience and optimize profits on retailing activities in the airport.
Airlines and destinations
Accidents and incidents
- On 21 January 1960, Avianca Flight 671, a Lockheed L-1049E, crashed and burned on landing, killing 37 aboard.
- On 19 April 2009, CanJet Flight 918, a Boeing 737-800, was hijacked. The hijacker, armed with a semi-automatic pistol is reported as having asked to be taken to Cuba. However, the security personnel eventually regained control of the aircraft without anyone being injured.
- Mbjairport. "Facts & Statistics - Montego Bay Jamaica Airport".
- Toronto Star, "Workers 'followed procedures' in allowing hijacker on plane", Andrew Chung, 22 April 2009 (accessed 25 April 2009)
- Caribbean Update, "Sangster Airport Privatization", 1 December 2002 (accessed 25 April 2009)
- Joe Bates (1 March 2018). "Revamp to boost commercial offerings at Jamaica's Sangster International Airport". Airport-world.com. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
- "Nonstop Flights between Montego Bay and Fort Lauderdale". Caribbean Airlines. 27 September 2019. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
- "Flight". ving.se.
- Jamaica Observer, "From Avianca to CanJet: MoBay Airport at Centre of J'can Aviation History", 22 April 2009 (accessed 25 April 2009)
- "Jamaican hostage-taker makes Cuba demand". CNN. 21 April 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2009.