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17th August 2021, 20:25

Airport tunnel expected to be completed end of this year or early 2022, Government confirms

The airport tunnel is expected to be completed at the end of this year, but could be delayed until early next year the Government has confirmed.

In answer to GBC questions, Number Six also said it continues in negotiations with the MOD on keeping the current pedestrian crossing.

Gibraltar’s Airport tunnel has so far taken 13 years to build, and could stretch to 14 by the time it’s completed..

Although works on the tunnel stopped for five years between 2011 and 2016 due to litigation, the Chief Minister told GBC in May that the delay has been 'disappointing'. However, Fabian Picardo stressed that it will be built to British standards.

The frustration caused by the delay in the tunnel's construction, has been exacerbated by the 24% increase in the number of non-scheduled flights arriving on the Rock, such as private jets.

In 2019 there were 178 and between January and June this year, there have been been 220.

According to Ramboll, the company commissioned to produce the outline strategic brief for the scheme, the airport barrier is closed more than 15 times a day to allow flights to land or take-off

In answer to GBC questions, the Government says it continues to work with contractors OHL to ensure the runway tunnel is completed at the very earliest opportunity. In the meantime, the Government says it regrets the inconvenience caused by closures of Winston Churchill Avenue to allow planes to land, but adds, it hopes the public understands the need to restart the tourism trade in Gibraltar after the difficulties this sector has suffered during the pandemic.

The Government says it will therefore continue to encourage more airlines to operate into Gibraltar and for those that already fly to the Rock, to increase the frequency of their flights.

On the pedestrian walkway, however, the Government says it continues in negotiations with the Ministry of Defence on keeping the current pedestrian crossing. The fall-back option will be a subway which runs parallel to the main underpass, transporting anyone on foot as well as cyclists – a longer and less environmentally friendly option than the current arrangement.