Prime Minister Gonsalves kisses ground at Argyle after disembarking the first aircraft to land at the unfinished airport in November 2015. (Photo: Sydney K. Morgan/Facebook)

The long-delayed Argyle International Airport is practically finished, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said on Thursday after four small aircraft landed at the EC$729 million facility that has been under construction for almost 8 years.

His comments came even as he said about one-third of the 9,000-foot runway is yet to be paved.

“Well, the airport, is, for all practical purposes, finished. Because, we are now doing the fencing, the internal roads are being done and you have a small part of the runway of 9,000 feet to be asphalted. We have put in all the covers for the two rivers and everything is in place with finishing touches,” he said in response to critics of the project.

“Today is a magnificent day that the Lord has made and we must be glad. We must be happy, we must be thankful and rejoice in it,” said Gonsalves who kissed the wet ground after disembarking an Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority aircraft that conducted tests at the airport — the first aircraft to land there.

Three other aircraft also landed at the airport.

“I want to say it has been a very emotional afternoon for me when I landed. I know the journey which we have travelled and we are within touching distance of the finishing line,” he told a ceremony on the apron of the airport.

Director of Airports, Corsel Robertson waves an SVG flag after disembarking one of the four aircraft at Argyle. (IWN photo)
Director of Airports, Corsel Robertson waves an SVG flag after disembarking one of the four aircraft at Argyle. (IWN photo)

Gonsalves thanked Director General of ECCAA, Donald McPhail — who also addressed the ceremony, noting that from the very inception, the IADC has been working with ECCAA.

“So that when I said that this airport is following all the guidelines and regulations and stipulation of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, I knew what was happening.

“At the same time, those opposed to the airport were saying we are going to build it and then no plane is going to land here.”

He said that recently in New York structural engineer, Hugh Stewart, said in the presence of Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace, that no aircraft will ever land at Argyle,

“Well, you heard Mr. McPhail nail down the lie. You have seen with your own eye that planes have landed and the regulators have done their work in respect of the approach light and a number of other tests performed by them about the safety and security of this airport,” Gonsalves said.

He also noted the comments of pilot Jonathan Palmer, who has over 40 years of flight experience, and whom he described as “the dean of pilots in St. Vincent and the Grenadines”.

Palmer told the ceremony that landing was “very routine” and as he anticipated.

“You are beginning to see the untruths, the lies, the falsehoods perpetrated for political reasons against this dream of an international airport, which has become a reality,” Gonsalves said.

“And those who have opposed this have done so for political reasons.”

Gonsalves said that a few weeks ago, the Caribbean Metrological Organisation reported that there is no need for any crosswind runway at the airport, and the Prime Minister noted that the pilots endorsed that view.

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“I just want every single one of you to remember what has been said and the corrections which we now expect them to issue. But, of course, this is an election period, they will not do that. They will continue with many of their falsehoods, their lies, their distortions,” Gonsalves said.

General elections are scheduled for Dec. 9.

The Prime Minister also said critics of the project say that the government does not have the money to finish the airport, but refuted this claim.

He noted that the two air bridges, each costing US$1 million, have been installed and said that MP for the Northern Grenadines, Godwin Friday, an incumbent opposition lawmaker, has said that the government was unable to get the airstrip right and no one knew if planes could land at the airport, but the government was installing air bridges.

He also said that MP for West Kingstown, Daniel Cummings, also an incumbent opposition lawmaker, said that the government had installed air bridges and was behaving like people with champagne taste and mauby pockets, a colloquial expression referring to someone who wants things that they cannot afford.

“They have no understanding of anything. All that is driving them is their hatred of Ralph and their love for power and their standing askance from the power of love,” Gonsalves said.

He noted that Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sen. Camillo Gonsalves, in his speech at the event, thanked all the entities that have contributed to the construction of the airport.

Gonsalves said that the people put leaders in place through the direction and guidance of God.

God, he said, raises up leaders for particular times.

“And I believe that the leadership of the Unity Labour Party, that we were raised at this time in this period to, among other things, build an international airport because we are the ones who possess the vision and ability to bring it about and we have done so and we thank Almighty God for guiding the people to put us in office repeatedly.”

The airport was first announced in August 2005 and actual construction began three years later.

Gonsalves noted that head of the state-owned International Airport Development Company, Rudolph “Rudy” Matthias told the ceremony that the finishing touches will be put on the airport over the next couple of months.

“We started it from scratch and in less than eight years, seven years plus, we are completing it,” he said.

“We have moved four mountains and filled four valleys. We have moved 134 middle-income houses and caused them to be built elsewhere. We have spanned a river and a stream, we have moved a church and a cemetery, and this for starters.

“And we began it with a vision and an idea and a faith in ourselves and Almighty God. And now we are at the stage where we are finishing it,” Gonsalves said.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbGzTYWHlhs

He repeated that the equipment at the airport will be used to carry out the largest road repair programme in the country.

“I’m not giving you gimmick you know. I am giving something connected to the people.”

Gonsalves, however, declined to call the names of the airlines that he said have agreed to service the airport.

“But I am telling you, and I will call them when I am ready. We have two international airlines out of the United States ready to come to Argyle. We have one out of Canada ready to come and we have also out of Europe, including the United Kingdom,” he said.

14 replies on “Argyle airport is ‘for all practical purposes, finished’ – Gonsalves  ”

  1. Way to go Comrade! Way to go!

    Big Up Argyle International Airport! Four in a row!

    Incidentally, is that a ‘mini pyramid mount” at the runway in the background? Me think so!

  2. All kinds of airplanes can and do land safely all the time on all manner of flat surfaces: water, frozen lakes, grassy fields, and even public roads.

    This juvenile publicity stunt so close to the election says that the PM is playing politics with the airport, not his opponents.

    More important, building an airport is a no brainer, if you have the money.

    The hard part is making it useful and productive. There is no evidence that this airport will be anything more than a white elephant (excuse the unintended pun).

  3. Where is that ” donkey cart minded ” Peter Binose.

    A phantom project they called the airport.

    Let me hear him talk, along with those other jack ass Vincentians who just want to keep this country down.

    None of them know anything about airport, and with there darm small minds choses to talk cock and bull sh***T about this airport.

    Kenton this is your web place ,but you to are guilty, case, look at your photos yesterday of the crowd seen at the airport.
    You said you took at 3:00 pm. Yet all of Facebook lite up with multitude of people there, yet you are so darm bias and a ndp. foolish lap dog, you could not show the true picture of the crowd seen.
    You dear call yourself a serious journalist.

    To me ,and a lot of serious people you are a joke.

    There should be 5th. plane yesterday, In that plane I’ll put all those ” donkey cart minded and jack ass Vincentian ” including you,and dump all of you into The Argyle Sea.

    Yea

    1. Thanks Kenton for the info you are providing. It helps to keep pin-heads like LB alert.
      Where did the planes took off from? CANOUAN? Another useless expensive piece of property in REG’s name.

      1. Yes, Kenton is fantastic! I remember when he worked at Searchlight, you could call after-hours and he was still there[…]. If you knew the hours he put in!!!
        You are right about the ignorant pin-heads. One of them made fun of my username and thinks he is clever… It insults the Vincentian People to read things from such ignorant people as VM. These people need to read the wisdom of Jesus or even Shakespeare “What’s in a name?” as Juliet said.

  4. I suppose another 4 months out of 7 or 8 years could mean that AIA, ‘for all practical purposes, is finished’? That is, if it is only another 4 months.

    I don’t understand the purpose of yesterdays landings of small aircrafts. Surely it would have been more beneficial to wait until the 9,000 foot runway is completed, and then land a much larger aeroplane? After all, isn’t that the reason AIA was constructed in the first place?

    Let’s assume that we have a completion date of March 2016 – I think that this is the latest date given? If so, we must by now know what carriers will be landing at AIA. Can anybody tell me? Is it a secret?

    I want to book my flights from London!

  5. It really pains me to believe that our people have voted 3-times now for such a con-artist. The load of rubbish and his “divine right of kings and Prime Ministers makes me want to vomit. I don’t think the SVG people or the Economy can take another 5 years of this mad man.

    1. Luther Bonadie says:

      Lost pet,
      What I want to tell you I cannot write on this site, however, for a short peek man you are a jack ass hole,and a bombo rass.

  6. Luther Bonadie, I certainly do not want to keep SVG down as you suggest. I want this project to work as much as the next Vincentian. I, like many others living and working overseas would benefit greatly by having a direct airline route to SVG.

    Having said that, I honestly do not believe that it will be completed by March 2016. How many times have the completion dates come and gone?. How many more millions of dollars will have to be spent? Yesterday’s demonstration of tiny planes landing was a gimmick. As far as I am concerned, it was a publicity stunt for the current government, and unnecessary.

    I really hope that I am proved wrong, but at this stage AIA will not be operational for at least a year, and we will hear more pathetic excuses coming out at the beginning of the 2016.

    1. Well TonyG, you’re entitled to your opinions beliefs and disbeliefs. I’m quite sure that you like some others might have missed this report from one of Kenton’s coverage’s. Here it is again.
      “The Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) aircraft that landed at Argyle International Airport on Thursday was for flight checking of the various procedures that have been developed for the approach to and departure from this airport…
      Officials conducted the flight checking of one of the visual aids commonly referred to as the PAPI ((Precision Approach Path Indicator)…“This system guides airplanes during their approach until touchdown on the runway.”
      On the other hand”, this so called “political gimmickry” leading up to elections just like any other time will have to do for now, I welcome it!

  7. Reading the comments you just have to shake your head. half the readers know what is going on and half the readers such as Vinciman and Luther Bonadie are examples of why SVG never goes anywhere and we are now the second-to-last ranked economy in the Caribbean, just ahead of Haiti. It pains me when I go to other Caribbean nations and they laugh at SVG, saying:

    “Vincentians can pick Bananas but they can’t pick leaders”

    People like Luther Bonadie and Vinciman can continue to worship Ralph, kiss his feet and keep him in office; that will insure that we stay at the bottom.

    SPEND, BORROW, TAX = Ralphonomics. There has NEVER been any job creation just circus stunts like this one.

    1. Lostpet, reading your comment I just have to shake my head. Ask Ralph about the “education revolution”, and don’t forget to sign up for “English Classes”. Its folks like you that make us feel shame, especially when they open their mouths. Lostpet they’re really laughing at you!

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