Odebrecht Construction of Coral Gables, Fla., has completed repairs at Haiti�s Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, enabling commercial carriers to resume service to and from Haiti�s capital beginning Feb. 19.

Photo courtesy Odebrecht Construction
Odebrecht Construction of Coral Gables, Fla., oversaw repairs to the Port-au-Prince airport.

Representatives of Dallas-based American Airlines and Odebrecht toured the devastated city four days after the Jan. 12 earthquake. According to Odebrecht, the contractor immediately assembled a team to repair and rebuild the airport’s commercial terminal. The contractor is currently performing more than $1 billion in construction at Miami International Airport’s North Terminal, where American Airlines is the primary carrier.

The capital airport sustained major damage from the earthquake. Brigadier General Darryl Burke, vice commander of Air Forces Southern, told the Reuters news service that structural engineers have inspected the rebuilt airport and approved its reopening.

American Airlines gave Odebrecht just three weeks to repair the airport’s departures and arrivals terminal, as well as refurbish American’s own cargo facility for passenger check-in and customs and immigration services.

For departures and arrivals, Odebrecht crews repaired three floors of an existing building that had sustained minor damage to provide 23,000 sq ft of terminal space. Repairs also were made to three passenger loading bridges, three elevators and three escalators.

The contractor also rebuilt American’s existing cargo facility into a one-floor, 13,000-sq-ft processing terminal that includes a baggage system, customs and immigration services, bathrooms and office space. Cargo functions were shifted to a different building.

According to Odebrecht, no construction supplies were available in Haiti. American Airlines’ local staff was able to procure materials from San Juan, Puerto Rico, assisted by the contractor’s crews in Haiti. Items were then barged to the Dominican Republic, where Odebrecht has existing operations, and then trucked to Port-au-Prince.

“Without American’s support, this facility would not be operational,” Gilberto Neves, president and CEO of Odebrecht USA said in a press statement. In addition to helping secure materials and other resources, Neves adds the airline provided transportation for employees working on the project and coordinated their housing, security and ground transportation in Port-au-Prince.

Odebrecht had four of its own staff on the ground in Haiti, and three others supporting the project from Miami. The firm also mobilized 15 subcontractor workers, including carpenters from Commercial Interior Contractors of Miami, and electricians from Houston-based Fisk Electric Co.’s Miami offices. Both firms are working on Odebrecht’s North Terminal project.

The contractor also trained 30 Haiti-based baggage handlers in basic construction techniques and employed them as laborers.

Antonio Pinto, Odebrecht’s project executive, said the work was performed without a formal contract, but as an extension of the North Terminal project and in “partnership” with American. Pinto says the value of the construction work is still being tabulated, but would likely be in the range of $500,000 to $1 million.

Schematic designs for the construction work were done in coordination with American Airlines, airport authorities and aviation agencies, Pinto adds.

“This has been a genuine labor of love,” Pinto added in a press statement. “Odebrecht is honored to be a part of this important achievement.”

“All of us at American Airlines and American Eagle have been eager to restore our normal operations into Haiti,” Peter Dolara, American’senior vice president for Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America, said in a press statement. “These flights serve as major milestones toward helping the country rebuild.”