Head of the Tourism Authority, Glen Beache. (iWN file photo)

The changing dates for the completion of the Argyle International Airport can be embarrassing for persons negotiating with airlines, head of the Tourism Authority, Glen Beache, told the media on Wednesday.

The Argyle International Airport, which was initially scheduled to open in 2011, has missed several completion deadlines since.

Beache, a former tourism minister, told a press briefing on Wednesday that the latest operational date given to him by the International Airport Development Company is October this year.

“Honestly speaking, it can be embarrassing. [I’m] not gonna lie about that, because obviously airlines make their itinerary at least a year in advance,” Beache said in response to a question about the impact of the changing dates on negotiations with airlines.

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Beache said that over the past three years British Airways has sent at least two teams to see for themselves the extent of progress on the EC$700 million airport.

“We’ve been on their radar for a while,” he said, adding that Virgin, which also services the UK market, “has sought us out on a few issues that they would like to see taken care of and see how we can help then and so on”.

He said Virgin has changed its marketing strategy, trying to fill the front, rather than the rear of their aircraft.

He said the airline is more interested in attracting high-end passengers, and this suits the Vincentian destination.

“Since they have done that, they have shown a lot more interest in St. Vincent and the Grenadines than previously,” Beache said.

“I mean, it hinders, because they have to push back where their planes have to be and how they want to do it,” he said of the impact of the delays in completion of the airport on airlines interested in flying to the new airport.

“There is interest in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but we need to make sure that we are ready and that we get it right from the start — our customer service is up, Customs, Immigration, our baggage handling, all of these thing.

“This is a new frontier for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Running Argyle International Airport is not going to be the same thing as running ET Joshua,” he said.

Pavement has begun on the general aviation apron at the Argyle Airport. (Photo: Friends of AIA/Facebook)
Pavement has begun on the general aviation apron at the Argyle Airport. (Photo: Friends of AIA/Facebook)

He also said that the date he gave for the completion of the airport was based on information from the IADC.

“… that was the date I was given, so that was the date I quoted as the completion of the airport, and that’s what I have to go to the airlines with,” he said in an apparent reference to the Dec. 31, 2014 completion date.

Beache responded to commentators who had chastised him over a statement he made last year about the negotiations with the airlines being an eye opener for him.

“Some people took me to task on this. I make no apologies for it. I think one of the things we have to learn in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is that we are not all experts on everything. And [in] everything, we continue to learn,” he said.

Beache said the Boyd Group International is assisting with the marketing of the airport.

Among his critics, Beache mentioned Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace, social commentator and historian Adrian Fraser, and journalist Chester Connell.

“We have to understand certain things with the airlines. It is simply this — and I will repeat it again, because certain people seem not to like the fact that I said it: Airlines do not owe St. Vincent and the Grenadines anything, just like cruise lines don’t owe us anything.

“They are not coming in here unless they can make a profit. St. Vincent and the Grenadines has no record of international travel because we have never had an international airport, so there therefore it is a risk coming into St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a risk that the airlines would not take solely an wholly.

“Of course we are going to subsidise them. Part of the negotiations is how we subsidise them. How much of it is revenue guarantee, how much of it is market support,” he said.

The northern turning head in the third kilometre of the airport runway. (Photo: Friends of AIA/Facebook)
The northern turning head in the third kilometre of the airport runway. (Photo: Friends of AIA/Facebook)

Beache said that officials are continuing to negotiate with the major airlines of North America and the United Kingdom and one or two others out of Europe.

He said he recently received proposal from an airline in Panama to do charters to SVG, through Grenada.

That document has been sent to the Office of the Prime Minister for review, Beache said.

He further said the Tourism Authority has gotten word from a major airline in North America wanting to begin flying in from the beginning at the next winter season.

“We’ve been meeting with them for a few years now. They have all the information regarding St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but one of the reasons they want to do it at that time also is because they have a plane available at that time.

“And no matter what, it is as simple as this: no airline is going to put a plane that is worth millions and millions of dollars and say it is going to fly into a destination without the airport being finished. And so, as soon as the airport is finished, that is when you are going to see guarantees…” Beache said.

“All of these intricacies play a part in the negotiations with the airlines and I wish — I don’t know who writes the Leader of the Opposition’s speeches; Dr. Adrian Fraser, [I] respect him with regards to his knowledge of the history of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but reading his article on the airlines and so on, he needs to do some more reading on that.

“I can say the same thing for the Leader of the Opposition. Mr Connell’s knowledge of tourism and what it involves, and the difference between mass tourism and regular tourism, he needs to do some reading on that that,” Beache said, adding that he will continue to keep the media informed about the status of negotiations with airlines.

7 replies on “Multiple airport completion dates ‘can be embarrassing’ – Glen Beache”

  1. Dr. Dexter Lewis says:

    MIRAGE, MIRAGE, MIRAGE, MIRAGE

    These MNU boys will not give up on trying to fool the public.
    No airline (except possibly the Venezuelan Airline) is interested in flying to SVG. The name of Delta Airline keeps coming up, but they have no interest. These MNU boys have no idea what airlines look for in making these decisions and NONE of those things are in place. NONE.

    The noise will garner some interest, but not by airlines. Just by misled voters. Just the simple job of finishing the airport is beyond the abilities of the MNU boys.

    They are incapable of starting a job, any job, middling it then promptly completing it. The cross country road awaits middling. The National stadium is nowhere in sight, has not started. The Education revolution is also such a mirage with studies showing as many 15 year olds out of school now as in the year 2001. Even the Community Centers, although physically complete, none have comprehensive programs of teaching skills as promised. It is a crying shame. And the “poor” people’s housing are now falling apart, one by one. We need rain for agriculture but we are afraid to pray for any because it may wash away these poorly built homes.

    And talking of rain, are the MNU boys prepared for what will happen to the airport if we get a few heavy showers? I would bet they have a good propaganda plan in place, but nothing to deal with the Argyle river. Propaganda will not tame the Argyle river.

  2. October? Come on man it was suppose to be July. Why are you all doing this nonsense, you are grinding our country’s reputation to the ground. That Airport would not be completed at least for another 2 years. It’s going to miss October too and every time you miss a date it’s gets harder for anyone to believe you and any airline to take you seriously. All in vain of politics. Steupssssssssssssss

  3. Patrick Ferrari says:

    Well, well, well. Pot calling kettle black.

    This is the man who say in 2012 how he done know which airlines coming but it is a secret and how he go tell we the secret in 2013.

    He say how David Barrow, Grantley Adams CEO, frighten how AIA go mash up Barbados. He say so in the same 2012.

    Then one year later, 2013, he tell we that how the second biggest airline in Germany, Air Berlin calling he to let them come here please. How they, Air Berlin, hear about all the goodness going on at Argyle and they need it to expand in the Caribbean.

    Now he saying the Prime Minister embarrassing he and humbugging the master negotiator with the forte in marketing, which is he, Glen Beache. I thought Ralph say is he Ralph negotiating.

    What, the changing dates in 2015 mash up his negotiations in 2011?

    These people lies doan got no end. And I am not sure it ever had a beginning like it eternal.

    Now I say what I say, I go go and read the article now. I only needed the headline to say all of that.

  4. Glen, you more than any of them that you list need to do a lot of reading about a lot of things.

    To me you are an embarassment, and so is your father.

  5. Forget the obvious embarrassment that this situation is causing for the folks involved in actual negotiations. These guys have no shame, trust me it ain’t having much effect on them. The real embarrassment is the ordinary who cuss out down too family members all in the name of this airport. The thing is, when we embarked on this project, if u so much as too question anything, you were vilified by supporters of the ULP. For they saw this project as a ULP project. Tractors were driven out too argyle draped in red. And there were ceremonies for just about everything. Heck, they even landed a chopper and told people “see, and the naysayers saying planes can’t land here”. It was a well orchestrated show and the prime minister was the star. Telling anyone who would listen, that once you dare question anything, u are anti-progress and not patriotic. So it’s not that the multiple completion dates are embarrassing, no no, the embarrassment is the fact that u guys actually believed every single date that was given.

    Now, something young Beache fails too mention here, is the fact that the New York Times named SVG one of the places too visit in in 2012. (Anyone can google this) And they did so based on two things (1) the opening of Buccamma, and (2) the new international airport that was too be opened that year. Now, Glen Beache, someone must have given the New York Times that info…… Could it have been the tourism authority?

    You all should be ashamed of yourselves, oh wait, ah forgot, you guys have no shame

  6. Patrick Ferrari says:

    Glenie still have a wuk?

    I know he chartered and tenured and untouchable.

    But it depends on who he touch.

    Is when they start to embarrass you Glen? I bet Ralph didn’t embarrass you when he defended you – at a great moral cost – with your conflict between your private interest with your private company and your public interest – or we were foolish enough to assume you had – as CEO of the Tourism Association.

    All yo memory short and convenient, eh.

  7. Virgin’s interest in “high end passengers” makes no sense since we only have two venues — Buccament Bay Hotel and Resort and Young Island resort — which are high end but only have 125 rooms between the two, hardly justfication for sending big jets to Argyle. If the “high end passengers” are destined for the Grenadines, where they really belong, they would still have to fly from Argyle or take a boat from Kingstown. They would be better off to fly from Grantley Adams in Barbados which would always have more interational carriers arriving more frequently.

    Just more nonsense and obfuscation from someone who should have been sacked long ago.

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