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KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — Actual construction of the Argyle International Airport terminal building will begin within one week, Dr. Rudy Matthias, chair and CEO if the Argyle International Airport Development Company (IADC) announced on Sunday.

Matthias, speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony for the terminal building, said he expects Taiwanese firm Overseas Engineering and Construction Company Ltd. would complete the facilities within 28 months, as contracted.

He said that while preparing for the design of the terminal building, IADC officials visited airports in Cuba, the Bahamas, Trinidad, Mexico, Portugal, and Atlanta.

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Taiwanese firm, CECI Engineering Consultants Inc. was awarded the US$3.9 million contract for the design and supervision of landside facilities.

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Matthias outlined the facilities to be constructed over the next two years

The contract for the terminal building, which is being financed by Taiwan, is worth US$26.5 million.

The 100,071 square-foot terminal building compares to the 30,000 square feet at the E.T. Joshua Airport and is designed to comfortably accommodate 800 passengers at any one time, Matthias said.

Matthias said all earthworks at the airport would be completed by early 2013. The airstrip will be 9,000 feet long and would accommodate any aircraft, except the Airbus A380 — the largest passenger airliner in the world.

The 22-acre apron at Argyle will be 11 times larger than at the E.T. Joshua Airport’s.

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Matthias said 8.8 acres would be for commercial planes while 11.5 acres will be for general aviation.

General aviation includes aircrafts flying to the Grenadines and private aircrafts, which Matthias said the IADC expects would increase significantly when the airport is completed.

The apron will also have space to accommodate two 727 aircrafts, the type Amerijet landed at the E.T. Joshua Airport.

The Argyle International Airport, the largest capital project in the history of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, was conceptualised in 2005 and construction commenced in 2008.

It was initially estimated to cost EC$480 million. The cost has since been revised to EC$652 million.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves’ “coalition of the willing” has joined in financing the airport.

The coalition includes Cuba, Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, Iran, Libya, Mexico, Austria, and the Caribbean Community Development Fund.

(I Witness-News apologises for the quality of the audio in this post)