A £9m project to strengthen and resurface large areas of the taxiway, aircraft parking stands and cross runway at Ronaldsway has been completed.
The project was labelled ‘cosmetic vanity’ by former Douglas South MHK Captain Paul Quine, who is a commercial pilot.
The scheme consisted of 500 square metres of high strength concrete along with 70,000 square metres of surfacing, and used 20,000 tons of aggregate from Poortown Quarry.
The first phase was done between October 2019 and March 2020 which replaced the time-expired existing asphalt surface on aircraft parking stands to support the 97-ton weight of an easyJet Airbus A321. The second phase was initially delayed from 2020 due to the pandemic, but once work commenced in spring 2021 the DoI said the project was ‘delivered ahead of programme and within budget, between March and September’.
Work involved the strengthening and resurfacing of the short cross runway and the main taxiway parallel with the main runway, along with widening the starter strips at each end of the main runway and other small resurfacing and repair works. Runway and taxiway lighting renewal included the installation of LED lighting on the cross runway.
Rob Callister MHK, Member of the DoI with responsibility for Ports, said: ‘This type of work is essential to the smooth running of transport connections to and from the Isle of Man and will place us on a firm footing for many years to come.
‘The project has been a great example of teamwork and planning and I congratulate all those involved. Both contractors have engaged and collaborated with the Department and its consultants to ensure the end product for our airline partners is of the highest standard. Working in such a challenging environment is never easy and praise must also go the team at the Airport who have accommodated the project and maintained compliance with stringent operational and security requirements throughout.’
However, Captain Quine, when quizzing DoI Minister Tim Baker in Keys back in May, said ‘the widening of the extension strips at either end of the main runway will serve no practical purpose whatsoever, by which I mean it will not alter what is referred to as declared distance for the calculations and performance planning considerations, would therefore be a waste of taxpayers’ money and clearly an exercise in cosmetic vanity’.
This claim was refuted by Mr Baker.