Public holiday likely for start of operations at AIA – Francis
January 13, 2017
Public holiday likely for start of operations at AIA – Francis

A public holiday is likely to be granted on February 14 in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) to commemorate the start of operations at the Argyle International Airport (AIA).

This was disclosed by Minister of Transport and Works Julian Francis on January 10, while speaking on Star Radio’s ‘ULP Speaks’ programme.

“Come high, come low, Argyle International Airport will open… We are opening our largest capital project. I don’t know if there will ever be another one as large as this one!”

Francis further stated that Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has a proposal to bring to the Cabinet requesting that February 14 – Valentine’s Day – be made a public holiday.

“Love is in the air!” he enthused.

Additionally, Francis acknowledged that some Vincentians are still doubting whether the airport will actually begin operations at the AIA next month, as in the past, several estimates of when the airport would open have not come to fruition.

However, he pointed out that never before has there been announced a specific date.

“The asset is yours; the airport belongs to all of us!”

The Minister of Transport and Works added that during the day, on February 13, there will be a flag-raising ceremony and the unveiling of a plaque that commemorates the start of operations at AIA.

Then, on the night of February 13, a LIAT flight will land at ET Joshua, disembark its passengers there, then fly on to AIA, where it will overnight, then leave the following day.

“I believe that will be the first night landing at Argyle International Airport.”

Francis also cautioned persons that the airport would be fully functional that day, so members of the public would not be allowed onto the tarmac as they were when LIAT flights landed in December 2015.

“There is a particular area where we are going to have the opening ceremony. It is in the area where the fuel farm is… where the hangars are being built, and there is some extra land there.”

On the historic day, there will be at least two international flights (chartered) originating from North America, landing at the new airport – Caribbean Airlines (CAL) and Sunwing Airlines.

Construction work on the AIA began in 2008, and the project is estimated to have cost $729 million. Funding for the project was provided by grants and assistance from a group of countries referred to as the ‘Coalition of the Willing’, loans and the sale of state lands. Members of the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ include Venezuela, Cuba, Taiwan, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, Austria, Iran, Libya, Qatar, Georgia and Kuwait.(JSV)