March 6, 2015
Faulty electrical wiring a major problem at JF Mitchell airport

Since the JF Mitchell Airport in Bequia opened in 1993, expectations in relation to passengers traveling through the facility have not been realized.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves was addressing Parliament this week, when he declared that individuals preferred to travel to the northernmost Grenadine Island by boat, rather than on an airplane.{{more}}

“If you look at the passengers in 2014, we only had 9025 passengers passing through JF Mitchell; less than 2013 and a little more than 2011, 2012,” Gonsalves said.

“You have every day, about 55 passengers on an average and you have during the busiest month – January, just over 12 flights…on an average and during the slowest month – September last year, you had 3.3 flights and 3.6 passengers per day.”

The prime minister said it was his plan to always ensure that the airport is kept in good condition however he made reference to some issues that hindered this goal.

He indicated that there has been a deterioration of the electrical system and that transformers connected to important systems would blow out frequently, despite several interventions from technical teams.

“I’ve met with the technical staff to discuss this recurring problem…and I’ve been informed that the root problem lies with the wiring that was done when the airport was built,” Gonsalves told parliamentarians on Tuesday.

Gonsalves also disclosed that the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority in 2012, ordered that the precision approach path indicator, which ensured that aircraft did not fly too high or two low, be turned off as it was placing aircraft on a dangerous path.

This meant that night landing is no longer possible at the facility.

“We carried out some work in 2012 and we resurfaced several deteriorating areas on the runway, taxiway and aircraft parking areas. Near to the terminal building, we have some resurfacing that still needs to be carried out there …and there is as is pointed out…a need for rehabilitation of the terminal building,” the prime minister said.

He added that the Roads, Buildings and General Services Authority (BRAGSA) will be assisting in some of the remedial work that is needed. (BK)