A festive atmosphere took over the inaugural Sunwing flight from Toronto to the Argyle International Airport (AIA) on Valentineâs Day, Tuesday, February 14.
The flight lifted off from Pearson International Airport a little after 9 a.m. and passengers could not wait for Vincentian pilot Daniel Gibson to give the okay to move about the Sunwing plane, flight WG262.
From the time the seatbelt lights were turned off, persons began moving about the cabin, chatting with their fellow Vincentians, as persons who did not know one another seemed to automatically merge into one big family, obviously spurred by the gravity of the momentous occasion.
The atmosphere was filled with pride and joy, as persons openly praised those who helped make the AIA a reality. One woman, Indira Walters, said that she was travelling to St Vincent to surprise her parents.
âThis is very exciting for me going home. It was my fatherâs 70th birthday last week, so I decided this is such a great opportunity to go home and have a party and celebrate with St Vincent and the Grenadines.
âThis time my parents donât know Iâm coming. Iâm surprising them,â said Walters.
Another passenger, a man from Georgetown, said that it was a dream come true for him to go home on the first flight ever to land at AIA from Canada.
He said that as a boy, he would frequent the Argyle area and it was a miracle to see how the place was transformed into the AIA.
The flight, which took close to five hours, could be described as a fete in the air, as one man played music from a boom box and other passengers used the opportunity to steal swigs from their duty free bottles of liquor bought at Pearson International Airportâs duty free shops.
Some who did not have their own liquor purchased from the stewards, who at times seemed confused by the comradery existing on the flight. One man commented that he highly doubted that the two women, one of them Polish, had ever seen anything like that scene on flight 262.
All throughout the flight, SVGâs Consul General in Toronto Fitz Huggins interacted with the persons on board, which included international music industry icon Ivan Berry.
When Captain Gibson announced that the flight was about to touch down at the AIA, passengers erupted in a boisterous rendition of the national anthem and when the wheels touched the ground, persons on board shed tears of joy, while others beamed with pride.
On landing, the passengers were greeted by Prime Minster Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who used the opportunity to thank persons for travelling on the inaugural flight.
âWe must never allow anyone to impose their limitations on our creative imaginations and we ought not reasonably to do so ourselves. This has been a great cause and great causes have never been won by doubtful men,â said Gonsalves, addressing the 131 passengers.
Passengers on the flight included media workers from Canada and SVGâs SEARCHLIGHT Newspaper senior reporter Lyf Compton, director of Sales (Canada) SVG Tourism Office Shelley John and chair of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority Bianca Porter.