Argyle International Airport

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Argyle International Airport
Argyle International Airport Logo.jpg
Argyle Terminal Building.jpg
Landside view of terminal from parking lot
Summary
Airport typePublic
OwnerGovernment of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
OperatorArgyle International Airport Inc.
Hadley Bourne (CEO)
Garth Saunders (Chairman)
ServesSaint Vincent and the Grenadines
LocationArgyle
Opened14 February 2017 (2017-02-14)
Hub for
Time zoneAST (UTC−04:00)
Elevation AMSL136 ft / 41 m
Coordinates13°09′23″N 061°09′01″W / 13.15639°N 61.15028°W / 13.15639; -61.15028Coordinates: 13°09′23″N 061°09′01″W / 13.15639°N 61.15028°W / 13.15639; -61.15028
Websitewww.svg-airport.com
Map
Argyle International Airport is located in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Argyle International Airport
Argyle International Airport
Location in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Runways
Direction Length Surface
m ft
04/22 2,743.2 9,000 Asphalt/Concrete
Source: General Specifications.[1] Coordinates are approximate.

Argyle International Airport (IATA: SVD, ICAO: TVSA) (often referred to as Argyle Airport or simply AIA) is a newly constructed international airport in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, about 5.17 miles (8.32 km) from Kingstown. The airport is one of St. Vincent and the Grenadines most important infrastructure assets and the country's first international airport. This airport connects St. Vincent and the Grenadines to major airports such as Miami International Airport, John F Kennedy International Airport and Toronto Pearson International Airport as well as other airports in the Caribbean. It is the largest of five airports in the multi-island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the largest international gateway into the country, the others being J. F. Mitchell Airport in Bequia, Canouan Airport, Mustique Airport and Union Island Airport all in the Grenadines. Argyle International Airport serves as a major gateway to the Grenadines, with several airlines operating an extensive network of direct domestic flights from AIA to all destinations in the Grenadines. The airport is the second solar powered airport in the Caribbean, following V. C. Bird International Airport in Antigua.

The project broke ground on 13 August 2008, with a work team of Vincentians and Cubans (nicknamed the "Chatoyer-Che Contingent" by Vincentian prime minister Ralph Gonsalves),[2] and the airport officially opened on 14 February 2017 when a Dynamic Airways charter flight became the first international aircraft to touch down at Argyle.[3] The Argyle International Airport replaced the much smaller E.T. Joshua Airport as St. Vincent and the Grenadines principal airport. During the construction of the new airport, the International Airport Development Company (IADC) faced numerous challenges and controversies, causing major delays in the construction process. This resulted in the airport being completed 5 years after the originally forecasted completion date.[4]

The airport is a primary hub for SVG Air, a national airline of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, along with Mustique Airways. SVG Air and Mustique Airways have combined to form a SVG Air-Grenadine Air Alliance, operating 17 Aircraft, with bases in St. Vincent, Antigua and Grenada.[5] Offering visitors and residents a wider choice of International Gateways in and out of St. Vincent & the Grenadines. Numerous inter-island flights are available daily.

Air Canada Rouge, American Airlines, Caribbean Airlines, Sunwing Airlines, Leeward Islands Air Transport or LIAT, SVG Air, Mustique Airways and One Caribbean currently provide regularly scheduled passenger services at Argyle International Airport. EasySky, which began flying to St. Vincent from Havana, Cuba in June 2017, is currently in negotiations with authorities to recommence its twice weekly service.[6] Argyle International Airport has non-stop flights to Canada and the United States. The airport receives many international charter flights and is also an important freight airport, which provides cold storage and standard cargo transport. Amerijet International, increased their airlift capacity, using larger aircraft such as the Boeing 767-300 to move more cargo into and out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

History[edit]

San Francisco (26-431): One of four Loening OA-1A amphibian planes that landed at Kingstown harbor in 1927.
An aerial view of Runway 04/22 at AIA, showing nearby low mountainous terrain west of the airport.
IADC Offices at AIA, with airport construction equipment in the background, including asphalt and concrete plants.

Argyle International Airport (AIA), was built in 2017 with expropriated land in a rural part of St. Vincent's southeast coast, in response to the growing airport traffic needs that E.T. Joshua Airport could not accommodate and also, because the latter had reached its saturation point with no physical space for further growth. The new airport will be able to handle 1.5 million passengers per year, more than four times the capacity at E.T. Joshua[7] and offer 23 commercial spaces, three restaurants and several spots for kiosks. Increasing the accessibility to this multi-island destination and be a key economic driver for the country, attracting direct flights from Canada, the US, the UK and more, fueling investments.

The airport commenced full operations on 14 February 2017, replacing the decommissioned E.T. Joshua Airport. Argyle International Airport is the only airport in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that offers international scheduled flights and is also served by scheduled, low-fare, business and charter carriers, with many services operated to the U.S. and Canada. It also supports corporate and general aviation.

Costs[edit]

AIA during construction in June 2015, showing paving of the commercial and general aviation aprons.
President Ma Ying-jeou of the Republic of China (Taiwan) visits AIA during construction in August 2013.

The Argyle International Airport is the largest capital project in the history of the country, with its estimated cost of construction of US$259 million or 700 million East Caribbean dollars price tag representing nearly one half of St. Vincent and the Grenadines gross domestic product.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Air Canada Rouge A319 docked at Gate 6 at the international terminal with a wide range of ground handling equipment around.
A number of international and domestic carriers shown here parked on the commercial and general aviation aprons at night.
Several parked airlines at Argyle International Airport, as seen from the Air Traffic Control Tower.

The busiest international routes are Toronto and New York, while the busiest regional routes remain Barbados and Trinidad. One Caribbean has filed an application for a Foreign Air Carrier Permit with the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) ahead of plans to offer ad-hoc charter flights to any point(s) in the United States from St. Vincent & the Grenadines and other OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) countries.[8]

The following airlines operate regular scheduled, charter flights, domestic and international flights to and from Argyle International Airport:[9]

Passenger[edit]

AirlinesDestinations
Air Adelphi Seasonal Charter: Mustique
Air Canada Rouge Toronto–Pearson
American Airlines Miami
Caribbean Airlines New York–JFK, Port of Spain
LIAT Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Port of Spain, Saint Lucia–Charles
Mustique Airways Barbados, Bequia, Canouan, Mustique, Union Island
Charter: Grenada, Martinique, Saint Lucia–Charles, Saint Lucia–Hewanorra
One Caribbean Barbados, Grenada, Tortola
Charter: Bequia, Canouan, Dominica–Douglas/Charles, Kingston–Norman Manley, Port of Spain, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia–Charles, San Juan, Sint Maarten, Saint Martin
SVG Air Barbados, Bequia, Canouan, Mustique, Saint Lucia–Hewanorra, Union Island
Charter: Antigua, Carriacou, Dominica–Canefield, Grenada

Cargo[edit]

AirlinesDestinations
Air Cargo Carriers Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia–Charles, San Juan
Amerijet International Barbados, Miami, Port-of-Spain, Saint Lucia– Hewanorra
DHL Aviation Martinique, Grenada, Port-of-Spain, Saint Lucia–Charles
FedEx Express
operated by Mountain Air Cargo
Aguadilla, Martinique, Grenada, Saint Lucia–Charles

Statistics[edit]

Caribbean Airlines Boeing 737-800 parked at Gate 7 of the AIA International Terminal.
Royal Air Force, RAF VIP Voyager, Airbus A330 MRTT (registry ZZ336)

Schedule and non-schedule commercial aircraft movements.

Top destinations[edit]

Busiest international flights out of Argyle International Airport by Frequency as of 2018[10]
Rank Destinations (operated by) Frequency (Weekly) Carriers
1  Barbados 38 LIAT, Mustique Airways, One Caribbean, SVG Air
2  Trinidad and Tobago 23 Caribbean Airlines, LIAT, One Caribbean, SVG Air
3  Saint Lucia 9 LIAT, Mustique Airways, One Caribbean, SVG Air
4  Grenada 5 LIAT, One Caribbean, SVG Air
5 Toronto 2 Air Canada Rouge
6 New York City 1 Caribbean Airlines
7 Miami 2 American Airlines

Incidents and accidents[edit]

AIA ground handling equipment, including pushback tug, Potable water truck and Aircraft container and pallet loaders.
  • 29 August 2018 – Caribbean Airlines Boeing 737-85P (WL) flight BW552 suffered a suspected bird strike and subsequent engine vibrations after takeoff from Argyle International Airport (AIA), St. Vincent and the Grenadines on a flight to John F Kennedy International Airport, New York City. The flight crew decided to divert to the home base at Piarco International Airport, Trinidad and Tobago. A safe landing was made at Piarco International Airport at 14:35 UTC, 65 minutes after takeoff, where it was taken out of service for maintenance by the airline's engineers. The airline says passengers on flight BW552 were re-accommodated on a later service to JFK International Airport.[11][12][13]
  • 26 August 2019 – A Saab 340 aircraft belonging to One Caribbean, apparently developed issues while departing from Argyle International Airport for Piarco International Airport in Trinidad and Tobago and skid off the runway. The aircraft was not damaged and there were no injuries to the occupants onboard.[14][15]

Controversy[edit]

Some observers have questioned whether St. Vincent and the Grenadines needs an international airport. If it does, they ask, can the country afford to build – and maintain – an international airport while running an EC$151 million deficit as of February 2016. All of this with public sector expenses increasing (Prime Minister Gonsalves announced in parliament in January 2016 that wages and salaries for central government employees will experience a "huge increase" in 2016 by 7.3 million EC dollars) taking the total to EC $281.8 million. The government also owes the private sector an amount nearing 100 million East Caribbean dollars.

The new airport was originally scheduled to open in 2011. As of February 2016 the project has cost in excess of EC $729 million with increases in costs expected and has suffered from many delays. Paving on the runway was still incomplete as of February 2016.[16]

In a "historic" address on 8 August 2005, Prime Minister Gonsalves stated, "Foreign investors often shy away from St. Vincent and the Grenadines when the limitations of air access arise due to the absence of an international airport." Critics have responded saying that the prime minister's statement is invalid and incorrect: on the contrary, many foreign concerns have invested in St. Vincent and the Grenadines from as early as the 1960s, after the Arnos Vale airport was constructed (and later renamed in memory of the humble E.T. Joshua). These investments include the highly-successful Mustique Company which also uses a well-organised, very effective shuttle from Grantley Adams International in Barbados direct to Mustique – which has its own appropriately-sized airstrip. It is a historical fact that the airstrip on Mustique was deliberately restricted in size as a function of the vision for Mustique as a very private, ultra-luxury destination that, therefore, would not want to facilitate any aircraft with a capacity to carry more that six persons at a time to Mustique. Mustique Company runs an internationally renowned, private, exclusive resort – one of the most successful globally – catering to the world's wealthiest – and has done so for 50 years – all without an international airport in St. Vincent. This was also accomplished by the several mid to high-end tourism plants in Bequia, Union island and Canouan (which all have airports as well).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.svgiadc.com/images/Publication/newsletter%202015%202nd%20qt.pdf
  2. ^ "Venezuelan Ambassador approves of Argyle International Airport", Searchlight, July 18, 2008.
  3. ^ "Argyle International Airport to open for chartered flights only, on February 14". Antigua Observer Newspaper. 29 December 2016. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Argyle International Airport to open for chartered flights only, on February 14". Antigua Observer Newspaper. 29 December 2016. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  5. ^ Ben Harrison - International Correspondent (17 February 2017). "SVG Air / Grenadine Air Alliance: Bridging the gap". The Vincentian Newspaper.
  6. ^ "EasySky to recommence flights from Cuba". News 784. 8 March 2018.
  7. ^ "St. Vincent and the Grenadines moves mountains for airport". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 20 September 2010. Retrieved 21 September 2010.
  8. ^ St Vincent’s One Caribbean eyes US charter flights CH-Aviation GmbH
  9. ^ Private Flights to St. Vincent and the Grenadines Air Charter Advisors. retrieved 3 August 2016
  10. ^ All international routes from SVD-flightradar24 Totals calculated on 12/19/18 using raw data available at source.
  11. ^ "Caribbean Airlines aircraft makes emergency landing after takeoff from St. Vincent". Searchlight Newspaper. 29 August 2018. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  12. ^ Aviation Safety Network Flight Safety Foundation. 29 August 2018
  13. ^ "Bird strike forces Caribbean Airlines flight to return to T&T". Trinidad and Tobago Guardian Newspaper. 30 August 2018. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  14. ^ "Aircraft Skids Off Runway At AIA". News 784. 26 August 2019.
  15. ^ Aviation Safety Network Flight Safety Foundation. 26 August 2019
  16. ^ "Private sector didn't expect Argyle airport to be completed in 2014". iWitness News. 16 February 2015. Retrieved 23 August 2016.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]

External video
IADC Documentary: The construction of the Argyle International Airport

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.