May 15, 2015
IADC Chair gives update on airport project

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and chair of the International Airport Development Company (IADC) Dr Rudy Matthias has assured Vincentians that the Argyle international airport (AIA) will become operational this year.

Last Monday, May 11, Matthias gave a comprehensive overview of the AIA project while speaking at Government House, where a group,{{more}} ‘The Returning Nationals of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ had gathered to hand over EC$35,000 to the airport’s contributory fund.

Addressing the group, Matthias opined that the group’s members must at times become irate when they hear negative things being said about the airport by persons who have never contributed to the project.

He told the members of the group, which has, to date, contributed approximately EC$260,000, to ignore the negative comments while updating them on the project.

According to Matthias the pavement of the runway and apron is expected to be completed in August/September, “if the weather permits.”

He noted that by June, the work being done on the two major drainage systems is expected to be completed. After the drainage system, which involves spanning the Argyle river (a US$3 million project) is done, the construction of the section of the runway that goes over this drainage system will begin.

Construction is also ongoing on the roads in and around the AIA, while the main access road leading to the terminal building will soon be completed and that will include a small roundabout at the main entrance to the terminal building.

In relation to the fencing, Dr. Matthias commented, “I have heard some comments from people who seem to know everything that the fencing may take a year or two, but that is not true.”

He revealed that plans are also being made to start the fencing of the airport with a special type of fencing that has already been ordered and will arrive in June.

Small teams of people will be contracted to build different areas of the fence which is expected to be finished by September.

The terminal building has been completed since December 2013 and the various forms of equipment have been ordered.

In early June, the conveyor belts and baggage systems will arrive from New Zealand, following which the conveyor belts will be installed in the international and domestic terminals. The IADC is seeking persons with electrical skills to help.

The security equipment will arrive this month or during the first week in June. The retrofitting of the various lounges, including the VVIP and VIP, are being done while two other lounges are also being retrofitted and will be for rent or lease.

In August, the jet bridges will arrive and will be installed soon after.

Matthias added that the control tower is finished, but they are delaying the installation of the equipment until July/August.

The equipment for the fire station has already been bought, while contracts are being negotiated to provide services like duty free stores, bars and restaurants. LIME will provide telecommunications services.

Canadian Bank Note will supply the immigration system and this will be installed in July. The software that is used to check in passengers and run the arrival and departure display boards is expected to be installed by August.

The cargo terminal is expected to be finished in November.

Matthias also told the gathering that the fact that the AIA is a new venture, the Government will have to seek persons from outside to staff certain aspects of the airport. He said that persons to manage the airport will come from outside of the country and the IADC is in the process of looking for persons that have extensive education on airport management.

When the airport is completed, a cultural attraction in the form of a Carib village will be set up nearby as a tourist attraction.

“We are still moving a little bit of mountains, but we are doing far more than that…we are going to be operational later this year,” said Matthias, while adding, “that is our target and we working steadfastly to achieve that.”

The Argyle international airport (AIA) has been under construction since 2008.