St. Maarten's Princess Juliana Airport plans to launch a major expansion and upgrade.

Improvements will include runway rehabilitation, construction of new taxiways, expansion of aprons to provide additional parking for aircraft and the acquisition of nearby property for future expansion.

To finance the project, government and airport officials refinanced a 2004 bond issue of $118 million, bringing the total available for the new project to $132 million.

The first priority is resurfacing of the runway, which is expected to start next month and be completed by August.

The entire project will be done over a three-year period.

No flight interruptions are anticipated. Work will take place when no planes are taking off and landing, between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Along with the capital-improvement project is the debut of a new website at

The site focuses on delivering up-to-the-minute arrival and departure information as well as information for travelers planning to visit the destination. It includes information on the airport's facilities, services and retail food and shopping outlets.

A soft launch of the site already has taken place; the final rollout is set for February.

The site's "Spectacular Landing" section highlights user-generated YouTube videos of the airport's famous beachside landings (between the runway and the Caribbean Sea is the 100-foot-wide Maho Beach where enthusiasts gather as jets pass overhead, seconds before touchdown.

Last year, a video surfaced of a woman holding on to the perimeter fence while an Airbus A320 prepared for takeoff. The blast from the jet sent the woman flying into a barrier.

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