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Aircraft at Argyle International Airport on Feb. 5, 2023. (Photo: Facebook/SVGATC)
Aircraft at Argyle International Airport on Feb. 5, 2023. (Photo: Facebook/SVGATC)
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Corrosion has put one of the jet bridges at Argyle International Airport (AIA) out of commission for weeks and the management is awaiting the arrival of a part to repair the equipment.

“You are going to get failures from time to time,” Tony Regisford, deputy chairman of AIA board of directors, said on WE FM on Sunday on the eve of the airport’s seventh anniversary of operations.  

“The speed with which they are addressed is sometimes not entirely in the hands of the maintenance staff because we need parts. Parts come in from overseas. We don’t control how they are produced, how they are shipped and so on,” he said.

Speaking on the same programme, Josette Greaves, an electrical engineer who is the manager in charge of day-to-day operations of the airport, said:

“We have a challenge at Argyle International Airport where, based on our location, and as one of board members always says, Mr. Lulley, director Lulley says all the time it’s a ship because we are operating in a maritime environment and most of our maintenance issues, I would say, is related to corrosion from the sea blast.”

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AIA is located right on the coast in Argyle on the east coast of St. Vincent, which is characterised by strong winds.

“We have programmes in place to try to prevent and treat and clean, repainting constantly.,” Greaves said.

She explained that the issue with the jet bridge is that the hydraulic cylinders which are responsible for raising and lowering it, had “some signs of corrosion and the corrosion, the abrasiveness of the cylinder, was causing the hydraulic seals to break constantly.

“So, we had to remove them. We attempted to repair them in Trinidad but the costs were higher than having them replaced with new ones. So, they are paid for, they are ordered and by the end of this month, they will be on the ground and would be installed,” Greaves said.

Meanwhile Regisford said there is a strategy for preventing that happening again.

“… the hydraulics is like a piston so there is a strategy which will ensure that that seal never has to go over a corroded band, as it were. So, it is a work in progress and we will get better as we go along.”

Greaves said the situation is not affecting operations at the airport.

“We are able to use passenger stairs and we have good weather lately so we are not affected by the rain and there is the other bridge.”

She said the airlines have not reacted adversely to the situation.

“What they are concerned about is the on-time performance is kept, that they turn around in the allotted time, whether it is 50 minutes or an hour. I don’t think they are particularly concerned about the method…”

She said the on-time performance “is good. It’s satisfactory. There’s always room for improvement, but we are doing good”.

Air bridges were not initially part of the design of the airport, but the government decided to install two in the lead up to the opening of the airport on Feb. 14, 2017.

Speaking on the radio show, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said that the board of the state-owned International Airport Development Company left the decision about air bridges up to him.

He said each of the air bridges cost US$1 million at the time, in addition to the cost of installation.

Gonsalves said that he framed the additional EC$5.4 million for the two air bridges in the context of EC$750 million spent to build the airport.

“I said, ‘… it is a drop in the bucket.’”

Barbados’ 50-year-old international airport, which like AIA is on the sea shore, does not have air bridges although it sees significantly more traffic in a day than AIA sees in a week.

Gonsalves said:

“When we opened our airport in 2017, Barbados did not have air bridges, Grenada did not have air bridges, Antigua did not have air bridges, St. Kitts did not have air bridges. I think St. Kitts and Barbados still don’t have air bridges.”

Gonsalves said he was the subject of derision in Parliament by the current opposition leader, who he said accused him of having champagne taste and a mauby pocket (budget).

5 replies on “Corrosion from sea blast cripples AIA jet bridge”

  1. A little washing with fresh water three times weekly could have prevented this. tri-weekly washing would remove the salt desposits and prevent build up. All is not loss. Simply clean the surface with a wire brush, apply some OSPHO. Leave overnight, wash with fresh water and repaint (spray paint) the next day. Ask the SVG Coastguard for help. They are very good at maintaining rusted surfaces.

  2. What is Gonzalves point on Barbados not having air bridges? Adams Airport in Bim receives in excess of 2 million passengers annually. Few if any complain about the short walk in the sunshine or 1minute drive to the terminal. Don’t fix it if it isn’t broke. Does SVG go past a quarter million arrivals at Argyle?

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