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Head of the Tourism Authority, Glen Beache, left and Minister of Tourism, Cecil "Ces" McKie. (iWN file photos)
Head of the Tourism Authority, Glen Beache, left and Minister of Tourism, Cecil “Ces” McKie. (iWN file photos)

Minister of Tourism, Cecil “Ces” McKie and head of the Tourism Authority, Glen Beache, on Monday, were put on notice that the pressure is on them to secure international flights to Argyle International Airport for Vincy Mas 2017.

Word of this came from Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves who said he expects there will be several charters for the nation’s largest festival, but said the details must be arranged soonest.

Vincy Mas 2017 will run from June 30 to July 11.

Gonsalves told a press conference in Kingstown that while the Tourism Authority has been responsible for negotiating with the airlines, this has never been and can never be a one institution or one-man business.

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He said it is for that reason that the government’s “Making AIA Work” committee has been placed under the Ministry of Tourism.

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Beache has headed the negotiations with the airlines over the past few years but has, so far, failed to secure scheduled international flights to the airport, which began operation on Feb. 14.

The international flights that landed at the airport on its opening day were chartered and since their return leg on Feb. 21, there has been no international arrival or departure of commercial flights into the EC$700 million airport, which opened seven years behind schedule.

The prime minister said he believes appropriate arrangements are being made for flights for carnival.

Responding later to a question about when the government is expecting to have regular chartered or scheduled international flights to and from the airport, Gonsalves said:

“I’m expecting that there would be several charters over carnival. And based on the information which I have been given by those who are directly involved, I would expect that we would begin to see regular flights for the next tourist season, which is the November tourist season.”

Gonsalves said he has told Beache and McKie that those charters have to be pinned down fairly soon, noting that some persons would have already begun to book to come home for carnival.

“And visitors who want to book outside of Vincentians, they have to remember that it’s only a relatively small number of persons who can say that they are taking leave within a week’s notice, within days’ notice. People have to give their employers a good two, three months’ notice.”

Gonsalves said he is hopeful that these arrangements will be “pinned down” within a week or two.

“You can’t delay that. And I believe these guys would probably feel that I am using the media to put pressure on them too, and if they feel that way, yes, yes, yes.

“Because I am talking to them privately in these terms,” the prime minister said.

6 replies on “PM puts pressure on officials to book flight to Argyle for Carnival   ”

  1. Oh lord…Beache looks real stressed in that pic. The PM is only giving him a few weeks to lock down those flights? How realistic is that?

  2. So why did Ralph allow the Valentine Massacre to occur when the Carnival season would have been the right time for charters? With the Canadian economy and dollar at a low point; it’s not that easy to plan a vacation in 3 months.
    I put forward an idea about a month ago that would have advertised the 40 years July carnival and no one took it seriously. I went to NYC and talked to Luta, Bomani and a cousin about the idea and nothing was done. Is it because things only move in SVG if Ralph says so? It’s kinda late now because these guys get here in April and carnival begins in June. Not enough time to get 250 – 300 passengers to take the flight.

    1. Looks like you were right. Maybe one of the problems we have in our SVG Society is that we do not know a good solid plan when we hear one. That is why we are where we are. You are also right that nothing happens unless the idea comes from Ralph, another reason why we are where we are. No one can tell me that with so many people involved in building the airport that all those mistakes were not noticed by anyone; and now, your better idea to promote the airport was rejected because it did not originate with the supreme leader, Dr. Salt

  3. Brown Boy USA says:

    Why is the government focusing on chartered flights instead of getting schedule international commercial flights to AIA? Shouldn’t that be the goal? But you are not hearing anything much about that! Chartered flight does not work for everyone. It’s like having an excursion to Bequia and if you miss the flight then you are on your own. Get what you need to get done to put things in place to have regular scheduled international flights, that’s why you built the airport, or was it for another reason?

    1. Your answer to that question is found in the essays of C. ben David. In a nutshell: demand to come to SVG is not great enough and regular enough to fill a big airplane from a continental overseas origin. Ralph either knows this or is beginning to realize it. He is now at the stage where he is blaming everyone but himself for the ill-thought-out airport.

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