Featured Video Play Icon

Prime Minster Ralph Gonsalves says that he has never promised that the Argyle International Airport would be profitable soon after construction.

He made the assertion this week as he defended himself against critics who have pointed out that the EC$729 million the airport will begin operations on Feb. 14 with only LIAT and Amerijet making regular scheduled flight.

A number of charter flights are also expected to land at the airport on that day.

Speaking in Mt Wynne on Thursday, Gonsalves said that when he announced that the government will open the airport on Feb. 14, he said that in addition to LIAT and Amerijet, the government will seek to have charters.

“Because the airlines which do regular services need to have the airport and all the requisite details in the information system: there and in the international civil aviation system for a particular period of time,” he said at the ground breaking ceremony for Black Sands Resorts and Villas.

“We will be testing the systems and, hopefully, we will get within the early period, and I know Glen Beache is working on that,” but did not complete the thought, but said, “And, as you heard, Captain Gouveia with Roraima.”

Gerald Gouveia, chief executive officer of Guyana-based Roraima Airways, said that he is looking to transit in St. Vincent, his charter flights from New York to Guyana, operated by Dynamic Airways.

He also announced that his company is looking at giving Gonsalves a Valentine’s gift of Cuban shoppers flown in on a charter on the day that the airport opens.

Guyanese firm hopes to land Cuban shoppers at Argyle on Feb. 14

“All I am asking people to do, just simmer down nuh! Just simmer down!” Gonsalves said, adding that his loudest critics opposed the airport from the beginning.

“Those who are politically jaundiced are getting desperate and I man just sitting down and enjoying their desperation,” he said and invited persons to attend the Feb. 14 opening of the airport, which is happening six years later than scheduled.

“I want to see you there in your numbers, because we begin a process which would lead us to more and more aircraft coming there on charter, and as we make all the arrangements now that the airport is open, and the necessary and desirable information, civil aviation networks be put in place for us to make argyle international work.”

The prime minister said that when he says this, people accuse him of having said that the airport would be a “money spinner” from day one and asking why is he is now speaking in those terms.

In his defence, Gonsalves returned to the August 2005 speech in which he announced the construction of the airport.

If you wish to receive iWN updates by Whatsapp, please add +1-784-532-4252… Be sure to send us a message when you do. “Notification” and the name you would like us to add you as would suffice…

But he read from his 2005 speech in which he announced the construction of the airport:

In that speech, Gonsalves said he appreciates “the genuine concern about the huge cost of constructing and operating an international airport.

“I realise that the international airport in the short-to-medium term will not be able to generate enough revenues to pay for the costs of its construction. However, in the long-run it will be economically viable. In any event, without it we are likely to be severely hampered in our thrust for further economic development,” he said.

“I didn’t hide it you know,” Gonsalves told the gathering in Peter’s Hope.

He further noted that in the speech he said that the airport must be financed in a way that allows Vincentians to live during its construction “and in the years when the income stream generated from the airport is not yet enough to offset the cost of financing it”.

Gonsalves commented:  “In other words, when I came to the people, I spoke to the people. I said these are the challenges which we have but we must go.

“We have accomplished it; we must now make it work.

Gonsalves said that in the 2005 speech, the only thing he got “slightly off” was the time frame in which the airport would be completed.

But that is not true. Gonsalves also said then that the airport would cost EC$480.6 million. But the final price tag announced by the government is EC$729 million.

“Look, I’m asking everyone. If you had been opposed to the airport, it is now there. Stop your foolishness and let us all make it work! Stop your foolishness and let us all make it work!

“And we have been patient with the construction, let us be patient in getting it work,” he said.

 

 

5 replies on “Gonsalves ‘didn’t hide’ that airport won’t be ‘a money spinner from day one’ (+video)”

  1. The issues are as follows:

    Question: Could we build an international airport.
    Answer: Of course, we could and we did. No big deal. That is the easy part.

    Q: Did we really need an international airport?
    A: No convincing government answer has ever been given. My answer is that there was no reason to build an international airport, then or now.

    Q: Will the airport be successful in the long term thereby justifying its construction?
    A: There is no reason to believe that it would be successful despite the decision of Pace Developments Inc. to build a resort/villas at Peter’s Hope. On the contrary, I contend that Pace and AIA will both turn out to be a colossal failures.

    Q: Will charter fights fill the gap until regularly scheduled flights commence?
    A: Absolutely not. Their minor role will only add to the financial woes of operating the airport part time.

    Q: How long should we be patient?
    A: At least 10 years, or 2-3 elections from now, with the ULP winning each one based on the mantra, “Don’t worry, be happy: the planes will soon be landing day and night. Be patient, my people, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Labour love!”

  2. Very well article, Rome wasn’t built in a day. This project is a game changer and like any new business it will take a while before it’s start to generate a profit or break even. The Airport is not for this generation it is for our future children.

    1. If Rome wasn’t built in a day, how many days did it take to build Rome?

      The best answer is 1,009,491 days which works out to 276 years (http://www.pawildsartisans.com/news/3801083).

      This means that you will be a very old man when this airport is finally operating at its intended capacity!

      But wait, didn’t the Comrade, Glen Beache, and Cecil McKie all say years ago that contracts would be signed within months with overseas airlines (assertions that I and others will now throw in their face as they — and you — keep stepping back on these false promises).

      And didn’t the same Minister of Tourism McKie say two years ago that there would be a tripling of air arrivals within two years of the completion of Argyle airport (http://www.caribbean360.com/travel/heres-why-st-vincent-is-expecting-a-tourism-boom-in-2015 )?

      You party fanatics must think the rest of us are a bunch of jackasses to forget all these promises!

      The airport was only built as a show-port, not a functioning means of transportation, as your comments clear show.

      “The airport is not for this generation. It is for the future success of the ULP. Labour love.”

  3. Dr. Dexter Lewis says:

    This guy is our cross to bear. He is narcicisstic like Trump, so he is only concerned about how HE (Mr. boss of every square inch of SVG) looks and what he gets out of it.

    The understanding of all Vincentians, here at home and abroad was that people would be able to fly from Toronto or New York or Miami or London or High Wickham and land at Arnos Vale and return overseas without touching down in Barbados or T&T, or any place else. It has never been a question of immediate financial viability of AIA. It has always been one of longterm economic viability or mere physical capability.

    Those in government told us that AIA would allow large passenger planes to land at AIA carrying large numbers of tourists. Is that reality? Will that ever occur, at least in the next 100 years? Those in government claim AIA would provide a gateway for export of our agricultural products. Will that happen any time soon? In 40 years? Have you advised farmers what to plant? Are those items even shippable by airfreight? Or, have you secured overseas markets for what we produce?

    In any event would this airport ever be acceptable in its present form to Aviation Authorities from which ports passenger planes will originate? In other words will the FAA (of the USA) ever accept this airport as safe? Or will it always fail inspection because that is the shoddy way that anything has been done by the jokers in power? Will they worry that the airport will wash away like the adjacent road in heavy rains?

    When will AIA be able to land an aircraft that cannot land at Arnos Vale?

    Finally, when and how will the bills on this airport be paid? And how much have we been defrauded?

  4. I don’t think many of the people in the crowd are convinced. If his 2005 speech is correct, then he knew this project would be a failure. After Feb 14th only 2 airlines will be landing at AIA on a regular basis. Charters will be twice or even three times a year and that not good for a project that cost close to 1Billion$$. All those red hats will be gracing AIA balance sheet for years.
    Based on the above AIA will go through some difficult times. Many people saw this coming and tried to ask pertinent questions which had others saying they were against the airport. All the hype and false hope about job creation, exporting agricultural products, improving living conditions and a better standard of living were and are a smoke screen.
    The excuse that these things are coming; show that no planning was done in advance to look at the positive and negative, that comes with such an expensive project.
    It’s totally unfair for the ULP supporters to blame other folks who questioned the feasibility of the humongous project. No one hates Ralph or the airport; what they hate are the lies, and dishonesty in being transparent about what Vincentians will face with a project this size.

Comments are closed.