The British Virgin Islands government has bought a small airport that had been scheduled to close for failing to meet international safety standards.
The government paid US$2.9 million (Ђ2.4 million) for the Virgin Gorda Airport, located on the territory's second largest island of Virgin Gorda. The sale was completed Tuesday after months of negotiations with the airport's former owner, the Little Dix Bay Hotel and Resort.
The government plans to upgrade the airport to ensure it remains open for locals and tourists. The airport opened in 1965 and has been a crucial link between Virgin Gorda island and Tortola, the territory's largest island, and the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Little Dix Bay announced earlier this year that it would close the airport because it failed to meet international safety standards. It was immediately unclear what safety rules were broken. Residents protested the plan, fearful that tourists would be unable to visit the island of 21,000 residents and that perishable goods would no longer be delivered.
The government intervened and began negotiations to buy the airport before it's scheduled closing. In July, the regulatory agency Air Safety Supply International issued the government a license to operate the airport on a month-to-month basis, AP reports.