Established in 1974 under the "Airports Authority Act" as an independent statutory body, with initial responsibility (ownership and management) for the nation’s two international airports; namely Norman Manley International Airport and Sangster International Airport.
In 1990, Airports Authority of Jamaica (AAJ) took on the additional responsibility for the island’s four domestic aerodromes. Since its inception AAJ has worked diligently to fulfil its principal mandate of developing and operating a safe and secure airport system for Jamaica. For several years now AAJ has been adjusting structurally, in keeping with the Government’s airport privatization policy.
In April 2003, AAJ divested the operational responsibility for (but not the ownership), the Sangster International Airport (SIA) to MBJ Airports Limited, a private sector operator. In October 2003, NMIA Airports Limited, having been incorporated as a wholly-owned subsidiary of AAJ, commenced operation of the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA). It is proposed that this airport will also be privatized in due course.
Airports Authority of Jamaica provides oversight and contract administration for the concession agreement which is in place with each Airport Operator; MBJ Airports Limited and NMIA Airports Limited. As a part of its responsibility, AAJ continues with the operation and management of the four domestic aerodromes.
In addition, AAJ undertakes the long-term planning and development of Jamaica’s airport system and continues to be at the fore of Jamaica’s air transportation policy development. The broad airport development policies pursued and the organizational changes implemented in recent years are aimed at expediting the expansion and modernization of the nation’s principal international gateways. The international airports are highly capital intensive businesses and are organized and managed as self-financing commercial enterprises. Both airports are implementing large capital development programmes that are being financed by internally generated funds, shareholder’s loans and equity contributions, as well as commercial debt.
The Government of Jamaica has taken the policy decision to privatize the international airports, commencing with Sangster International Airport. This is in keeping with international trends and the need to attract private capital to finance the required levels of expansion and development at the international airports, to cope with the projected growth in aircraft and passenger traffic. The privatization of the Sangster International Airport was completed on April 12, 2003 when the private operator, MBJ Airports Limited, took over the day-to-day operation of the airport from AAJ.
Under the Agreement the approved Airport Operator is responsible for the management of the day-to-day operations of the respective Airport in keeping with specific performance criteria and prescribed international standards. Regular performance reviews and other contract administration oversight functions are conducted by AAJ, as specified under the concession agreement. In addition, an Airport Forum is held biannually to provide stakeholders with the opportunity to provide progress reports and to address pertinent issues.
Under the agreement with the international consortium, MBJ Airports Limited, AAJ retains ownership of the non-movable assets of the Airport, owned prior to privatization, and will manage the concession agreement to ensure that the private operator performs its contractual obligations.
The private operator pays a concession fee to AAJ and at the end of the contract will transfer the Airport’s assets acquired during the period of the concession to AAJ.