KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, CMC -The Chief Executive Officer of the Tourism Authority, Glen Beache, who has the task of trying to attract airlines to fly to Argyle International Airport says he is “tired” of the project that started in 2008 and has missed multiple completion deadlines annually since 2011.
Beache made the comment on local radio on Wednesday as he revealed details about two chartered flights that will land at the airport on February 14 – the date of the official opening of the airport
“I’m relieved,” Beache said, adding, “I’m kind of tired of the project, to be honest. It’s been going on for a while now, since 2008. I think we gave some unrealistic timelines for the completion of it and I can say that.”
He further said that beginning operations at the airport is an even more challenging task than construction of the EC$729 million project, the largest in the nation’s history.
“If you think the construction is hard, becoming operational is a huge job. It is a serious challenge,” he said, adding that the airport is not E.T. Joshua or Canouan.
E.T. Joshua is the nation’s main aerodrome, but Canouan has it longest runway. There are also airports in Bequia, Mustique and Union Island, but Argyle will be the nation’s first international airport.
“This is on a completely different level and I think it is a relief. I will be relieved once I see everything go smoothly on the 14th and we are operating,
Beache, however, said there is “no doubt” that there are going to be hiccups, but said officials will try to minimise them.
“But I think I will be relieved and I will be happy for Vincentians on a whole. This is a game changer,” he said.
He said the airport has “gone way past” arguments about whether the dance can pay for the light”.
Beache has been negotiating for years to get international carriers to fly into the airport and has suggested multiple times that he was about to seal a deal with one international carrier or the other.
However, the Tourism Authority, the state-agency, which is responsible for marketing Vincentian tourism overseas, will pay Caribbean Airlines and Sunwing to bring a flight from New York and Canada respectively on Feb. 14.
Pressed for an approximate cost of the charters, Beache said, “I really can’t tell you yet.”
“You could probably say around 100 -thousand US dollars,” , adding that “it might, it might not” include the taxes.
He said the Tourism Authority would try to recoup the money through ticket sales.
The airport has missed construction deadlines annually since 2011 and has been a major plank of the 2005, 2010 and 2015 general elections.
After missing the deadlines , last year, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves recently announced the opening date of February 14.