Work is still underway on the cargo terminal at Argyle Int’l. (Photo: Friends of Argyle Int’l/Facebook)

The 2015 timeline for the completion of the much-delayed Argyle International Airport appears to be “credible” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says, but told the media that the airport can operate without a finished fuel farm or cargo terminal.

“I spoke to Dr. [Rudy] Matthias, [head of the International Airport Development Company] and he told me, he said I gave you these timelines Prime Minister, what I told the House [of Assembly], and these timelines appear to me to be credible,” Gonsalves told the media this week, when asked if the airport was on track for completion this year.

The EC$700 million dollar international airport has missed several deadlines since 2011, including December 2014 and “mid-2015”, which some persons interpreted as meaning June.

While construction of the terminal building was completed two years ago and the air bridges arrived in the country this week, other elements of the airport, including the runway, cargo terminal, fuel farm, fencing, and diversion of a river under the runway remain incomplete.

“The issue which I am working on is to have the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority in place where work is being done with sufficient intensity from a regulations standpoint that fairly after we complete everything, that they are doing their work on an on-going basis so that they can say yes, nothing is needed to be done there further, nothing to be done there and so on and so forth,” Gonsalves said.

“And we don’t expect any problem in that regard. It’s only that I don’t want a time lag; and that I can’t give any precise time on. But, in terms of the completion, I expect that by the end of the year we will be finished with it,” he said.

Workers install the baggage carousel in the terminal building, which was build two years ago. (Photo: Friends of Argyle Int'l/Facebook)
Workers install the baggage carousel in the terminal building, which was build two years ago. (Photo: Friends of Argyle Int’l/Facebook)

Gonsalves said there are things that are taking place at the same time at the airport.

“And this is what a number of persons don’t appreciate. The paving is taking place at the same time that the work is being done with the culverts at the river and I don’t know when last you went there, you will see the work is substantially complete. But you will have a small piece to cover it over, even if you pave everywhere else, you will have to come to pave that, but that wouldn’t take a long time,” he said.

Gonsalves said that the installation of the solar system doesn’t have to be complete for the airport to be operational, adding, “because you have electricity”.

“Even the cargo terminal building you don’t have to be finished with that for the airport to be operational. Rubis is doing the fuel farm, and Rubis says even if you are not finished with that at the time when you are ready to open, I have alternative arrangement I can transport the fuel from Arnos Vale.

“I spoke to the Rubis people myself about that. Matthias had advised me but because it is an important question, I made sure that I got to Rubis themselves to hear. I didn’t expect Dr. Matthias to mislead me but on matter which are so important, I want to hear it also from the assurances which are given,” the Prime Minister told reporters.

Gonsalves has said that Vincentians will elect a new government by December, ahead of the March 2016 deadline.

He said he is confident facing the electorate in light of some statements made by the opposition about the airport.

“… I am very pleased going into an election where the Leader of the Opposition says it wouldn’t be finished before 2020.

“I’m also very pleased to hear him say that they will stop all operations, carry out an extensive study, and decide what they are going to do. I am also very interested to hear their lead spokesperson on airport, that is to say Glen Stuart, say in New York, while Eustace is saying we will study it and we will finish it by 2020 — I don’t know how much more money you will have to spend to do over things which you do already did if you ain’t using them — but Stuart says that no plane will ever land there.”

I-Witness News understands that concerns are already being expressed outside of political circles about the possible deterioration of the terminal building, which has not been used since it was completed.

“So I am really happy for all of those positions. I listen to them. I haven’t commented on them yet, but you will hear me more and more on those matters,” Gonsalves said of the statements by the opposition.

Gonsalves, however, said that whether the airport is open before or after the elections, the people will know that he has built something that others said couldn’t be built and that he built it for the youth and the future of the country.

13 replies on “2015 completion date ‘credible’, but airport can operate with unfinished parts – PM”

  1. petergriffin says:

    Diversion politics from the master of contradiction.They ask you about the completion date for the airport and you cant answer truthfully so you take a swipe at the opposition as usual.Your government has delivered so much to this country as you all say but yet the ULP can,t face the electorate on it,s record.Gonsalves sees the airport as his only saviour.It is not going to be completed intime so you have to call the elections without it being finish so stop delaying the inevitable.If you all are so confident of four in row just bring it on Mr PM.

    1. I am told the cafe will be opened even if the airport is not, I bet you cannot guess who will be operating the cafe, bar, and restaurant?

  2. Dr. Dexter Lewis says:

    It’s NOT a matter of “building it”. But rather that the airport be useful for the intended purpose.

    Consequently, does Gonsalves have an international carrier that has agreed to fly into Argyle with passengers? Has the FAA accepted the Argyle Airport to be used by a US passenger carrier? What are the outstanding safety concerns?

    Will all of these issues be cleared up by the new “finish” date? Or, are you just ploughing along to look good for the elections????

    1. Yes he does they are Venezuelan and are called Conviasa, banned in Europe because of safety record, they are to be what was described as our flag bearer.

      You see Mr Lewis its what’s called solidarity, you forgot about that, but Gonsalves didn’t.

  3. Did he have a stroke or something? He seems to have trouble stringing words together so that they make sense.
    To all supporters and detractors alike – has the question of emergency services and their capabilities been asked and answered to your satisfaction?
    Would the Honourable Prime Minister be willing to give us some detail regarding plans in place to take care of an emergency if one of the large jets should, God forbid, crash on landing or take off? Please, Mr. Prime Minister!

  4. C. ben-David says:

    As so many commentators have rightly argued, the conception, financing, construction, and completion of the airport are the easy part.

    The hard part is to make it beneficially operational — to bring in enough international flights and passengers to make keeping the airport up and running on a daily basis — and economically viable — to ensure that the volume of passengers is sufficient to at least break even, taking into account the extra-airport national spin-off benefits of bringing many more visitors.

    There is no credible evidence that the airport will ever break even on these grounds: the costs of building for the airport, servicing the airport debts, paying for running and maintaining the airport are destined to overwhelm any positive spin-off benefits in the tourism, agricultural and fishery, transportation, service, and other sectors of our economy effected by more visitors, whether nationals and foreign tourists.

    If anyone has any credible evidence to contradict this assertion, please post it here so we can all be enlightened.

    1. It will be great for flying kites, I used to fly my kite there as a child, the winds were so great at times that it ripped all the kites to shreds.

  5. Haahah. I just have to laugh. How did this guy fool Vincentians into believing he was smart, is one of the world’s big mysteries. Right up there with bigfoot and the Bermuda triangle. The guy doesn’t even make sense half the time and rambles on and on for the other half. Operate without parts? Have mercy. Man just call the elections yo hear. We need to uncover all the corruption and missing money that happened under your watch.

  6. I am amazed at the rambling nonsensical statements that Gonsalves made here. The rambled word is almost child like, its pathetic.

    For one thing none of the work on the runway or taxiways was compacted correctly and they have not been approved yet.

    The wind studies have remained a close secret and are unavailable to compare with private studies that have been made.

    The roads to private housing and to Rawacou Resort has not been started, it has to be installed from the Stubbs end and the Peruvian Vale end. When the runway is completed the whole Rawacou area will be cut off without the promised roads installed.

    As for the inference that Rudy Mathias is responsible for parts of the airport not being finished so he must check on what he tells him elsewhere, that statement is scurrilous to say the least. Rudy watch out boy, you will get the blame and your whole future blighted.

    There is no hospital or medical centre equipped and within the required distance from the airport to deal with big jet emergencies. We have no rescue boats, no rescue helicopters. If there is a major accident involving several hundred passengers, and even innocent land crew and property owners, they are all in a lot of trouble, no facilities whatsoever.

    There are no medical facilities at the airport, other than a small room which will be designated a clinic.

    The hospital at Georgetown is too far away and remains unfinished, a three year project that is taking the Cubans 10 years to build. When it is finished it is not designed or equipped as a major emergency hospital. It is built close to the volcano and if it erupts it too will require evacuation which will be impossible, there are no helicopters and even if there were they would not be allowed to fly because of ash intake into their engines. I know from family that rocks, some as big as icebox’s rained down on that very area that the hospital is being built during the 1979 eruption.

    Our hospital at Kingstown is too far away and cannot cope at the moment with everyday emergencies that the country encounters. People have been known to wait up to 16 hours with serious injuries. The hospital is always without drugs, dressings and always lacks ward and bed space. The hospital cannot be extended there is no available ground for an extension. This hospital will never be able to cope with a major emergency of any kind.

    There are no burns units anywhere in the country, and the hospitals struggle to deal with normal everyday fractures.

    Now Gonsalves is telling us that it doesn’t matter if the airport is finished in total, is doesn’t matter if the full length of the runway is unfinished, if the fuel farm is unfinished. But what that means is that no international jets will be able to land there, perhaps LIAT and all those little aircraft owned by family companies. Well it does matter as far as I am concerned because we already have that facility at Arnos Vale, so why have we built the same at Argyle. We could have saved $2 billion EC dollars and just carried on at Arnos Vale, even extended the runway into the sea for $80 million.

    Vincentians living on the Leeward Coast will have to drive all that way to Argyle, why? Because Gonsalves promised us a cross country road, that road would have saved the Leewarders that long drive through Kingstown. People should be asking exactly where the money went that was in the purse already for the Cross Country road, where is the money? Where is the road?

    As far as I am concerned this is a one man crusade, a crusade to impress the Cubans and all those other like minded people as our PM. This was built as a means to be re-elected and to stay in power through a family dynasty for a very long time.

    We must out the ULP at the next elections, even if for only for one term, there is no other way that we can find out exactly what has gone on, how much money has been stolen and who stole it. And PM I am not saying you stole it so don’t bother suing me or Kenton.

    I for one am sick and tired of all the lies that have been fed us for years now.

    1. C. ben-David says:

      The issues you highlight are just the tip of a very big and unique Caribbean iceberg. This airport project will go down in West Indian history as the biggest hoax since … well, there never been a hoax approaching this one!

  7. What he left out is the Control Tower is currently just an aircondioned shell, no electronics installed, and no remote beacon station installed in Bequia yet, which the tower will automatically communicate with. Until that is completed and all the Grenadine beacons are installed and communicating, the airport cannot open even for kites.

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