The terminal building and parking area seen in this photo uploaded to the Friends of AIA Facebook page on June 28.

The long-delayed Argyle International Airport will not be completed by the end of this month, having also missed the June 2016 target announced in April — then the latest in a string of missed completion deadlines dating back to 2011.

At a press conference on Monday, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves was asked how the delays would affect the projected Government revenues for 2016, and, possibly, 2017.

“It’s not so much the revenues. Anytime you have any delays, you are likely to have more expenditure and you are likely to have loss of particular opportunities,” said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance.

He reiterated that three main factors have caused the delay of the airport, namely rain, the length of time it took to remove petroglyphs in the last kilometre of the runway, and the disbursement of money secured by the Government.

Gonsalves said that over the last three years, no fewer than 60 days have been lost annually as a result of bad weather.

This is in addition to the 25-30 days lost when the Cuban workers return home for Christmas.

Final pavement on the runway continues, according to this photo uploaded to the Friends of AIA Facebook page on June 30.
Final pavement on the runway continues, according to this photo uploaded to the Friends of AIA Facebook page on June 30.

“What I can say is we are coming to an end,” Gonsalves said.

He said he spoke Sunday night with Garth Saunders, an engineer who is manager of the Central Water and Sewerage Authority and a board member of the International Development Company (IADC) — also a state-owned firm.

“I have a hand as to how things are coming with Rudy Matthias with the IADC. The Argyle International Airport Company, which is the management company, which Garth Saunders is the chairman of that company and there are a series of things which have to be done to accommodate the opening of an airport, even when you get it construction ready. That’s the point,” Gonsalves said.

Regarding the opening, the Prime Minister said, “That’s not going to happen at the end of this month.

“I had said indicatively, maybe the end of July, maybe August. Garth told me last night that he would have to get with me with the schedule of other things, which they are doing. But we are proceeding with all the other arrangement in respect of airlines and the like to have indicative times for them,” Gonsalves said.

Matthias, who is CEO and chair of the IADC, had promised on April 1 that the airport would have been competed by the end of May, regardless of the weather.

Matthias told a meeting of stakeholders, chair by Gonsalves, that he believed that within the first half of 2016, they would have been able to complete all the construction works and have the airport ready for operation.

“We have been affected by the weather to a small extent, we have been affected by equipment breakdown, we have been affected by so many other things,” Matthias told the media after the April 1 meeting.

He, however, said that the report that they received that day had suggested that they should have been able to complete the works by mid-May or thereabout “or certainly by the end of May.

“And that takes into account the likelihood of rain,” Matthias had said on April 1.

Argyle Airport ‘on the verge’ of completion (+Video)

20 COMMENTS

  1. Excuses, excuses, excuses. What a leader! What a government! Those 60 days we lost to rain and Christmas are to blame. We normally do not have rain in SVG and we certainly don’t have Christmas? We could not plan for that in advance. We planned that they would work on Christmas. Sad, sad, sad! Those 60 days of rain and Christmas is what is at fault that we did not finish the airport in 2011.
    When a leader is able to make ANY excuse and the people eat it, is when you know we are in trouble, and not with just completion dates, with everything!

  2. Terrible planning! I wonder if the leadership of SVG is able to accurately plan the start, duration and completion of a bowel movement accurately?

    • Great at the planning on how to win elections, by fair means or foul, but a failure at everything else.

    • I wonder which human being (or animal, for that matter) “is able to accurately plan the start, duration and completion of a bowel movement accurately?”

      You must be a miracle-man, sir!

      • Some say that they can set their watch by their bowl movement. In my opinion it is all just a load of S&*T…or am I wrong?
        In truth we can all approximate closely within the space of 1 hour or less. How close was the estimation of the completion of the airport?…We still do not know!

  3. Imagine my shock when I heard the airport will not be complete by the end of the month! The Comrade promised! What the Comrade promises the Comrade does…period! Look at all the jobs he has created in the past years! It is all the fault of Christmas! Those bad Christians have to have their fun!

  4. I must say congrats to the Island of Dominica, there is no International Airport but your doing so much better in bringing tourist, which is a boost to your economy unlike SVG, good job to your PM.Now! People of SVG aren’t you guys tired of this air port talk, If and when your airport does come to completion, that still does not mean operational ok…. I love St Thimas USVI, because on any given day I can sit on the hills and see Delta, US Air, United, Jet Blue, American and Spirit airline dropping off hundreds of Tourist to enjoy our little Paradise. The crazy partbifvthisbisvrhatbSTThimas does not have an international airport.., Whose fooling who???? That is the question

  5. Here is further evidence that the runway was unfit for use in December 2015 when Liat and Kelly and all the bunch flew in to support the ULP election rally. Also when they flew in prior to that pretending they were testing the runway and its lights. The lights were only finished last week.

    Also it rains every year at this time so rain should be no surprise to the project.

    They are just a bunch of liars and deceivers.

  6. It would seem to me, just as a simple observer, that, after so many years “in the works,” it would be possible to predict – and take into account – potential delaying factors such as rain, equipment breakdowns, worker holidays, the tardy receipt of monies from various sources, and so on.

    Vincentians have known for centuries when the rainy season comes, approximately how much rain can be expected, that working people celebrate holidays every year, and that promised payments do not always show up when anticipated. (The only thing that hasn’t happened – so far, at least – is another volcanic eruption… But who knows…?)

    What these delays have cost Vincentians over the past years is just staggering, whatever the promised “benefits” that the future might hold should AIA ever become operational, or even – dare I say it? – profitable: Ever-rising taxes, crushing poverty, crumbling infrastructure and public services, national debt, and, perhaps most poignantly, the erosion of national pride and confidence.

    Earlier this year, I took a taxi out to Argyle, just to have a look. It was a weekday afternoon. There was one solitary truck driving back and forth along the runway, throwing up a trail of dust; other than that, the site was empty. I asked the driver, a born and bred Vincentian, what he hoped the future would hold. With tears welling in his eyes, he replied, “Well, maybe some day my children will be able to fly in and out of here…”

    It broke my heart.

  7. Surprise, surprise!

    As several commentators have rightly noted, the technical issues of building the airport was the easy part (although having the money to do so has always been a problem).

    The really hard part is making the project economically viable which demands attracting several foreign airlines, a number of hotel developers, and thousands of new visitors, a monumental and unrealistic prospect for our tourism-challenged mainland.

  8. What’s new? We’d hear the same story for the next 10 years. Meanwhile it’s killing the economy and any job creating endeavors. Matthias should be fired. Rain is being blamed for all construction delays at the airport and the Leeward Highway. Workers are digging holes going down Rillian Hill and leaving them open. This is dangerous and these men should be berated and their equipment damages so they don’t continue to put the Vincentians lives of a risk.
    The damage to vehicles was and is tremendous. Yet drivers said nothing and did nothing to push the government to address this dangerous issue. The NDP should take up these issues that affect both NDP and ULP supporters. This is one way to win over ULP supporters who have been blindly following Ralph and his false and lying promises.

  9. The heading was bang on but then whoever wrote the piece blew it with the lede.

    The “Argyle Airport will not be complete by month end,” is, as I said, bang on. But while “The long-delayed Argyle International Airport will not be completed by the end of this month …” is equally bang on, the author could have said with the same bang on accuracy, “The long-delayed Argyle International Airport and the Cross Country Road will not be completed by the end of this month …”

    While all three would eventually, at some point, be facilitators of transport, the obscene amount of moolah spent at Argyle makes an international airport as far removed from an airport as an airport is from a cross country road.

    The opening of the Argyle Airport – with the “Argyle International Airport” sign lit in the background – would be like a slow motion heist in broad daylight. People would still have to hang on to their hot Ju-C and cold roti. And then there is Buccament – or is there? – and their first 300 guests. Still the Teflon Prime Minister is going to pull it off. Watch and see.

  10. Did anyone really EXPECT it to be completed by month end????

    We were also told that we had an agreement with an airline that would be flying here, but that the documents had been sent to the AG for review; and we would know which airline is involved by the end of June (see iWitness News report of 29 May). We are now at 12 July and we’ve heard nothing more about this mysterious airline.

    I figure that airline agreements with airports must be fairly standard be now. After all there are international airports the world over. So I shouldn’t think that we would have some special agreement that needs substantive review – unless, that is, we are actually paying the airline to come here instead of the airline paying us for landing rights. You never know.

    You know, at one time in England, every winter they regularly had train cancellations and burst water pipes – because on the cold weather. In winter. We’re beginning to sound like that – we DO have a rainy season that arrives every year just after the sun passes overhead at our line of latitude. It doesn’t change. Is it really so difficult for someone planning a project like this to make allowances for the annual rains in scheduling a completion date?

  11. Looking at the big picture, it may well be that the authorities have decided to issue an enhanced go-slow on a chronically go-slow project to gain what they think is needed political leverage.

    To be sure, part of the traditional go-slow has been rooted in poor management, inadequate equipment, and cash short-falls. But most has been premised on the need to turn what should have been a three-year project into a three-election cycle propaganda effort.

    Now that the end appears in site — sort of — but there are no deals with the international airlines or resort developers, there is a need for further delays to ensure the transfer of power from Papa to his first-begotten son.

    Don’t be surprised if this ends up in another three-year delay with elections called soon after the grand opening in 2019. This is because if the airport is declared open for business — ready to receive flights — later this year but with no signed airline contracts in place, this may have adverse political consequences for the ULP.

    In particular, when the airport is finally physically completed by the end of this year or early next year, the regime will simply declare that it is at last in a position to begin really serious discussions with the airlines, a process they will claim would take some time. They will also claim that they need to recruit and train airport personal which will also take some time. Then there is the issue of airport certification which will take some time.

    The trump card would be a bogus deal with some unnamed developer to build a huge complex at Mt. Wynne which they will claim will take three years. A sham work effort complete with bulldozers clearing Big Bay at Mt. Wynne would be undertaken “to prove” that the project is legitimate. After all, no international airlines would sign on until such a resort is completed, will be the claim.

    In short, the list of things, real and imaginary, that still need to be done to convert the airport from complete to operating will be a very long one indeed. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, will be the cry.

    Of course, the gullible ULP supporters will lap all this up just as a dog laps up its own vomit.

    One way or another, our smart-man PM will find a way to turn this boondoggle of an airport into yet another election victory.

    As for the hapless NDP, the party will be left flatfooted once again.

    • You are probably right, they are now dragging their feet, waiting for an airline to sign-on, or seem like they want to sign on, before they finish the last 3 months needed to “open”; although the airport will not really be “finished” until about 2019, they maybe can open in about three months. I have stopped trying to judge the incompetence of the ULP Planning and execution department….What a ship of fools!

  12. the larger the civil engineering project, the more can be stolen. Arnos vale new town next… i bet they are licking their lips at the prospect

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