Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has listed to Parliament the airlines with which his government is discussing possible flights to Argyle International Airport, expected to become operational this year.
“The authorities that are involved in this under my own guidance, they have been in touch or the airlines in touch with them — American Airlines, JetBlue, Delta, Spirit, WestJet, British Airways and Caribbean Airlines,” Gonsalves told Parliament on Tuesday in response to a question from Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace.
“At the appropriate time, when all arrangement have been made with any of these airlines, I will, as usual, within the tradition of openness and transparency of this government, present the information to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said.
“Am I to assume, Honourable Prime Minister, that there are no agreements thus far?” Eustace said in a supplementary question.
“Mr. Speaker, I have given my answer,” Gonsalves responded.
“I understand the answer,” Eustace said.
Gonsalves, responding other questions from Eustace, told Parliament that the total projected cost of the airport is roughly EC$700 million
“But, Mr. Speaker, approximately 160 million of that is in-kind contributions, so that actually the projected cost is 542 million dollars,” said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance.
He told Parliament that at the end of December 2014 just over EC$435 million had been spent on the airport.
“Some of what remains to be spent has already been committed, but I don’t need to go into the further details. I just stick to what is asked.”
Regarding management of the airport when completed, Gonsalves said the relevant authorities and public official are putting together all the relevant documentation, relevant proposals for a government-owned company to manage the operations of the airport.
“There will be a separation between the actual management and the matter of the technical aspects tackled by the Director of Airports. At E.T. Joshua [Airport], the Director of Airports also manages the airport, but there will be a difference at the Argyle International Airport, in keeping with modern international airports,” he said.
The airport, which has been under construction since 2008, has missed several completion deadlines.