Details of inaugural flights into AIA to be  released next week
January 6, 2017
Details of inaugural flights into AIA to be released next week

Persons interested in purchasing seats on one of the inaugural international flights into the Argyle International Airport (AIA) on February 14 will have to wait until at least the end of next week to find out how they may do so.

Glen Beache, the chief executive officer (CEO) of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority (SVGTA), told SEARCHLIGHT yesterday that he is hopeful that he will be able to provide the details in a press conference by the end of next week.

On December 29, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves announced that the AIA would become operational on Tuesday, February 14, following which Beache, in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT, said Caribbean Airlines (CAL) and Sunwing Airlines have both confirmed that they will operate inaugural charters into the AIA from John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York and from the Lester B Pearson International Airport (YYZ) in Toronto respectively on February 14.

During an interview on Wednesday, January 4, on the OMG Morning Show on Boom 106.9 FM, Beache told hosts Dwight Joseph and Stephen Joachim that he hopes to sign a contract with Canadian airline Sunwing by next week, following which, details will be worked out with a tour operator for the sale of tickets.

He said the price of the tickets is still being worked out in conjunction with the AIA to determine if any taxes, such as the landing fee, would be waived.

“So, all those things have to be worked out,” Beache said.

“I’m hoping by next week, we will have everything in place to be able to come to the people and say this is what it is going to cost…”

Beache also disclosed that it has been decided that tickets for the return flight of Sunwing from AIA to Toronto on February 14, returning to St Vincent on February 21 will be sold. That, however, will not be the case for the CAL flight.

“CAL has been difficult to get in at this time because it’s Trinidad carnival. So that plane, as soon as it lands here, it turns around right away and heads to Jamaica to do another flight.”

He repeated, as he had in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT last week, that the SVGTA will pay the cost of the charter upfront, with the seats being sold to the public to recoup the money. He disclosed that it costs approximately US$100,000 to charter a plane to fly into AIA and return to North America.

“We pay the money up front; we recoup the money from ticket sales, and I should say this, because of the significance of this day, we’re not looking to make a profit. I am looking to break even, to just get back what we’ve put out…”

He was optimistic that all the seats on both flights from North America would be sold.

“The phones have been ringing off the hook…. I am convinced… that once I announce these details, that within an hour, every single plane will be filled.”

In relation to a charter from London, Beache said he should receive confirmation of this by the middle of next week.

“…It’s a bit more dificult coming out of the United Kingdom; we’re speaking to Thomas Cook; we are speaking to Newmont, which is a tour operator which does a lot of Caribbean business, so they might be willing to do the chartered flight themselves, which might take that off of me, which I would not mind.”

He said the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA), the regional body responsible for certification of airports, has completed their approval and submitted documentation to the international body they represent.

The ECCAA is the regional representative of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Beache said the international certification process is still ongoing, but he guaranteed that all certification would be in place by February 14.