Argyle International Airport

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Argyle International Airport
Summary
Airport type Public
Serves Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Location Argyle
Coordinates 13°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
Website www.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
Source: General Specifications.[1] Coordinates are approximate.

Argyle International Airport (IATA: SVDICAO: TVSA), is a newly constructed international airport in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The project broke ground in 2008, and the airport officially opened on February 14, 2017 when a Dynamic Airways charter flight became the first international aircraft to touch down at Argyle.[2] 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.[3]

Caribbean Airlines and LIAT Airlines currently provide regularly scheduled passenger services at Argyle International Airport, with Air Canada scheduled to commence service at the end of 2017.

Costs[edit]

Government sources had originally stated that the airport project would cost around US$240 million or 700 million East Caribbean dollars and would replace[citation needed] the existing E.T. Joshua Airport. Other sources cite a figure of one billion ($1,000,000,000) EC dollars as being nearer to the cost of the project. Some sources indicate that, when complete, the airport will have a passenger capacity nearly four times that of the current working facility, the E.T. Joshua Airport.[4]

Overview[edit]

Attempts by the previous government led by Sir James F. Mitchell, Premier and Prime Minister of St.Vincent and the Grenadines for 19 years, (premier 1972-1974, prime minister 1984-2001) to lengthen the E.T. Joshua Airport runway were unsuccessful. Engineers had advised that the runway could have been extended by 2000 feet into the sea, as requested by American Eagle. At a projected cost of US $50 million, this would have allowed regional jets, with service as far as Miami and South America with up to 120 passengers, to safely fly in and out of E.T. Joshua Airport.[5] According to Prime Minister Mitchell, his government invited tenders for the final design at Arnos Vale. He stated, "I turned over the contract documents for a successful tender by a Canadian company to my successor [Arnhim Ulric Eustace] to sign, but he decided to wait until the next election and cancelled the visit arranged for Kuwaiti officials". The original conceptual designs for the airport were developed by RCGA Architects-Interior Designers.

Visitors and Vincentians who wish to travel extra-regionally continue to make connecting flights from E.T. Joshua Airport via Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados, Hewanorra International Airport in St. Lucia or the Maurice Bishop International Airport in Grenada.

Choice of location[edit]

Besides the possible upgrade of the E.T. Joshua Airport and the extension of its runway, two other sites were being considered for the construction of the new airport to accommodate more passengers and larger aircraft from cities that are further away: Argyle on the eastern side of the island and Kitchen on the southeast. Argyle was selected and work began on the 8th of August 2008. According to the Dr. Hon. Ralph Gonsalves administration Cuba, Taiwan, and Venezuela are helping with the construction of the airport. The runway is expected to be 9,000 feet long and 150 feet wide[citation needed].

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.[6]

Opening[edit]

After five years of being behind schedule to open Argyle International Airport, its opening on the 14th of February 2017 was announced by the Antigua Observer and The Stabroek News.[7] However, the airport was only open for chartered flights for which the Government of St Vincent paid. To this date, there is no commercial traffic scheduled for this airport, other than Air Canada, Liat Airlines, and Caribbean Airlines. Further more, there has been no IATA certification for the airport.

Caribbean Airlines will make an inaugural chartered flight out of New York City, while Sunwing Airlines will doing a chartered flight from Toronto. These two airlines are expected to touch down at the Argyle International Airport one hour apart for the grand opening.[8]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Passenger Airlines

Airlines Destinations
Air Canada Rouge Seasonal: Toronto–Pearson (begins 14 December 2017)[9]
Caribbean Airlines Port of Spain
LIAT Antigua, Saint Lucia, Barbados, Port of Spain
EasySky Cuba
Sunwing Airlines Seasonal Charter: Toronto–Pearson (begins 23 October 2017)[10]
TIA2000 Barbados

Cargo Airlines[edit]

Airlines Destinations
Amerijet International Miami
FedEx Grenada
DHL Port-of-Spain

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.

In a "historic" address on August 8, 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).

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.svgiadc.com/images/Publication/newsletter%202015%202nd%20qt.pdf
  2. ^ "Argyle International Airport to open for chartered flights only, on February 14". Antigua Observer Newspaper. 2016-12-29. Retrieved 2017-01-20. 
  3. ^ "Argyle International Airport to open for chartered flights only, on February 14". Antigua Observer Newspaper. 2016-12-29. Retrieved 2017-01-20. 
  4. ^ "St. Vincent and the Grenadines moves mountains for airport". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 20 September 2010. Retrieved 21 September 2010. 
  5. ^ Mitchell, Sir James (2012). St. Vincent and the Grenadines the Ungovernable. p. 7. 
  6. ^ "Private sector didn’t expect Argyle airport to be completed in 2014". 16 February 2015. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  7. ^ "Argyle International Airport to open February 14". Antigua Observer Newspaper. 2016-12-29. Retrieved 2017-01-20. 
  8. ^ https://news784.com/.../breaking-cal-and-sunwing-airlines-to-land-at-aia-february-14th
  9. ^ "Air Canada Adds Six New Routes to Australia, South America, Caribbean and USA". Air Canada. May 3, 2017. Retrieved May 3, 2017. 
  10. ^ "Sunwing Airlines Winter Charters To Argyle International Airport".