V. C. Bird International Airport
|V. C. Bird International Airport|
|Operator||Antigua and Barbuda Airport Authority|
|Location||St. John's, Antigua and Barbuda|
|Elevation AMSL||62 ft / 19 m|
The airport originally was operated by the United States Army Air Forces.
The airport was built as a United States Army Air Forces base around 1941, and named Coolidge Airfield after Capt. Hamilton Coolidge (1895–1918), a United States Army Air Service pilot killed in World War I.
Flying units assigned to the airfield were:
- 35th Bombardment Squadron (25th Bombardment Group) 11 November 1941 until November 1942
- 12th Bombardment Squadron (25th Bombardment Group) 23 November 1943 until 24 March 1944
- 4th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (Antilles Air Command) 21 May until 5 October 1945
Renamed Coolidge Air Force Base in 1948, it was closed as a result of budgetary cutbacks in 1949, with right of re-entry retained by the United States. Agreements were subsequently reached with the United Kingdom and, later, the Antigua government upon independence, for the establishment and maintenance of missile tracking facilities. Antigua Air Station was established on a portion of the former Coolidge AFB. As of 2011[update], NASA continues to utilize the Antigua facility for launch tracking services on an as-needed basis; and did so for the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory on 26 November 2011.
Upon the closure of the base in 1949 it became a civil airport. It was known as Coolidge International Airport until 1985, when it was named in honor of Sir Vere Cornwall Bird (1910–1999), the first prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda.
In December 2005, the Antigua and Barbuda Millennium Airport Corporation announced it would invite tenders to construct the first phase of a new passenger terminal designed to serve the airport for 30 years. In 2012, they announced the construction of its second terminal.
The new terminal became operational on August 26, 2015. All flights operate from the new facility. The terminal covers 23,000 square meters (247,570 square feet), with four jet bridges, modern security screening facilities, up-to-date passenger processing and monitoring facilities, and a CCTV security system. It contains 46 check in counters, 15 self-check in kiosks, 5 baggage carousels, mini food court, multiple VIP lounges, bank, retail stores, first class lounges, restaurants, and other Facilities. Other improvements included a newly constructed car park; parallel to the old terminal, along with other airport offices.
The old airport terminal is not fully out of use, as some offices still remain there.
Airlines and destinations
- The LIAT corporate headquarters, call centre, and customer relations departments are on the airport property.
- The Antigua Outstation of the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority is on the airport property.
Accidents and incidents
- On 17 September 1965, Pan Am Flight 292, a Boeing 707-121B en route from Fort de France, Martinique, to St. John's struck Chances Peak on Montserrat, an island to the southwest of Antigua, killing all 30 hands aboard. The pilot mistakenly believed he was descending into Antigua. As a result, a VHF omnirange (VOR) transmitter was installed at the St. John's airport.
- On 10 May 2004, a LIAT de Havilland Canada DHC-8-311 flight made an emergency landing after one of its wheels fell off shortly after takeoff. The flight operated by the Antigua-based airline had departed from St. Maarten en route to St. Kitts when one of its wheels reportedly fell off. The Dash 8-311 turboprop was diverted to Antigua and was able to land safely on its three remaining wheels, without causing damage to the aircraft. None of the 24 passengers and three crew members were injured. The airline has launched an investigation into the incident.
- On 12 November 2008, a LIAT de Havilland Canada DHC-8-311 circled around V. C. Bird International Airport in Antigua following reports of landing gear malfunction. The de Haviland Dash 8 -311 aircraft should have landed at the Robert Bradshaw International Airport in St Kitts, but was diverted to Antigua because of the problem. It turned out that the landing gear was in order, but the indicators in the cockpit gave a reading that there was a fault. Firefighters, medical personnel and police were on alert but, after clearance, the aircraft landed safely with its 42 passengers and three crew members.
- On 7 October 2012, FlyMontserrat Flight 107, a FlyMontserrat Britten-Norman Islander took off and later crashed a few feet off the runway due to significant contamination of the aircraft's fuel by water.
- Airport information for TAPA at World Aero Data. Data current as of October 2006.Source: DAFIF.
- Airport information for ANU / TAPA at Great Circle Mapper. Source: DAFIF (effective October 2006).
- Airport Council International's 2009 World Airport Traffic Report
- "Mars Science Lander launch coverage". NASA TV. NASA. Retrieved 2011-11-26.
- "V.C Bird International Airport - Airport Development". Retrieved 6 June 2015.
- "Contact Us." LIAT. Retrieved on 23 December 2012. "LIAT HEADQUARTERS LIAT (1974) LTD V.C. Bird International Airport P O Box 819 Coolidge Antigua"
- "Antigua Outstation." Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority. Retrieved on 23 December 2012.
- "Fly Montserrat Airplane Crash in Antigua reported." Spice Media Group. 8 October 2012. Retrieved on 8 October 2012.
- Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority, ECCAA. "Interim Report Released on Cause of Fly Montserrat Crash: Water In Fuel Feeding System". MNI Alive. Retrieved 14 October 2012. (Archive)
Media related to V. C. Bird International Airport at Wikimedia Commons