The long-delayed Argyle International Airport will open on Feb. 14 — five years behind scheduled, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves announced on radio on Thursday.
“I called in just to announce formally that Argyle International Airport would be opened on February 14th, on Valentine’s Day, the day of love,” he said on his Unity Labour Party’s radio station, Star FM.
“All of us in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, it’s a day which we’ve been looking forward to. So I thought that I should mention it to you. I will call around a couple other stations and say to them — give them this good news,” Gonsalves said.
He noted that the Feb. 14 opening of the airport had been hinted at on social media.
“Yesterday, I had a meeting with all the relevant stakeholders to make sure that Feb. 14 was a go,” the prime minister said.
“And I am told, a journalist called me this morning telling me social media abuzz that it is Feb. 14,” he said, adding that the journalist wanted confirmation.
Gonsalves said he was going to make the announcement in the new year but decided to do some after the inquiry by the journalist.
There have been speculations that the first commercial flight into the airport would be a chartered flight and Gonsalves confirmed this when he made the announcement.
“Head of the Tourism Authority,] Glen Beache, he is the point man dealing with the charters coming in for that day and so on and so forth. But I am hoping that Vincentians overseas, businesspeople, etc. they can organise charters.
“We are in for business,” Gonsalves said, but did not announce the name of any of the airlines that will make scheduled flights to the airport.
It is understood that regional carrier LIAT and Amerijet, an American cargo airline, will service the new airport while the government works out any kinks and continues to woo other carriers.
The EC$729 million airport has missed construction deadline annually since 2011 and has been a major plank of the 2005, 2010 and 2015 general elections.
After the airport missed numerous completion deadlines, Gonsalves said last year that he had been advised not to make any further announcements about completion targets until he was certain that they would be met.