Argyle International Airport

Argyle International Airport (IATA: SVD, ICAO: TVSA) (often referred to as Argyle Airport or simply AIA) is a newly constructed international airport in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, about 5.17 miles (8.32 km) from Kingstown. The airport is one of St. Vincent and the Grenadines most important infrastructure assets and the country's first international airport. This airport connects St. Vincent and the Grenadines to major airports such as Miami International Airport, John F Kennedy International Airport and Toronto Pearson International Airport as well as other airports in the Caribbean. It is the largest of five airports in the multi-island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the largest international gateway into the country, the others being J. F. Mitchell Airport in Bequia, Canouan Airport, Mustique Airport and Union Island Airport all in the Grenadines. Argyle International Airport serves as a major gateway to the Grenadines, with several airlines operating an extensive network of direct domestic flights from AIA to all destinations in the Grenadines. The airport is the second solar powered airport in the Caribbean, following V. C. Bird International Airport in Antigua.

Argyle International Airport
Argyle International Airport Logo.jpg
Argyle Terminal Building.jpg
Summary
Airport typePublic
OwnerGovernment of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
OperatorArgyle International Airport Inc.
Corsel Robertson (CEO)
Garth Saunders (Chairman)
ServesSaint Vincent and the Grenadines
LocationArgyle
Opened14 February 2017 (2017-02-14)
Hub for
Time zoneAST (UTC−04:00)
Elevation AMSL136 ft / 41 m
Coordinates13°09′23″N 061°09′01″W / 13.15639°N 61.15028°W / 13.15639; -61.15028Coordinates: 13°09′23″N 061°09′01″W / 13.15639°N 61.15028°W / 13.15639; -61.15028
Websitewww.svg-airport.com
Map
Argyle International Airport is located in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Argyle International Airport
Argyle International Airport
Location in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Runways
Direction Length Surface
m ft
04/22 2,743 8,999 Asphalt/Concrete
Source: General Specifications.[1] Coordinates are approximate.

HistoryEdit

 
San Francisco (26-431): one of four Loening OA-1A amphibian planes that landed at Kingstown harbor in 1927
 
An aerial view of Runway 04/22 at AIA, showing nearby low mountainous terrain west of the airport

The project broke ground on 13 August 2008, with a work team of Vincentians and Cubans (nicknamed the "Chatoyer-Che Contingent" by Vincentian prime minister Ralph Gonsalves),[2] and the airport officially opened on 14 February 2017 when a Dynamic Airways charter flight became the first international aircraft to touch down at Argyle.[3] The Argyle International Airport replaced the much smaller E.T. Joshua Airport as St. Vincent and the Grenadines principal airport. During the construction of the new airport, the International Airport Development Company (IADC) faced numerous challenges and controversies, causing major delays in the construction process. This resulted in the airport being completed 5 years after the originally forecasted completion date.[4]

Argyle International Airport (AIA) was built on expropriated land in a rural part of St. Vincent's southeast coast, in response to the growing airport traffic needs that the E.T. Joshua Airport could not accommodate and also, because the latter had reached its saturation point with no physical space for further growth. The new airport is able to handle 1.5 million passengers per year, more than four times the capacity at E.T. Joshua[5] and offers 23 commercial spaces, three restaurants and several spots for kiosks. The airport is expected to increase the accessibility to this multi-island destination and be a key economic driver for the country, attracting direct flights from Canada, the US, the UK and more, fueling investments.

The airport commenced full operations on 14 February 2017, replacing the decommissioned E.T. Joshua Airport. Argyle International Airport is the only airport in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that offers international scheduled flights and is also served by scheduled, low-fare, business and charter carriers, with many services operated to the U.S. and Canada. It also supports corporate and general aviation. Argyle International Airport is the largest capital project in the history of the country, with an estimated cost of construction of XCD$700 million (USD$259 million) and an actual estimated value in excess of XCD$1 billion.

OperationsEdit

The airport is a primary hub for SVG Air, a national airline of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, along with Mustique Airways. SVG Air and Mustique Airways have combined to form a SVG Air-Grenadine Air Alliance,[6] operating 17 aircraft, with bases in St. Vincent, Antigua and Grenada.[7] Offering visitors and residents a wider choice of International Gateways in and out of St. Vincent & the Grenadines. Numerous inter-island flights are available daily.

Air Canada Rouge, American Airlines, Caribbean Airlines, Sunwing Airlines, SVG Air, Mustique Airways and One Caribbean currently provide regularly scheduled passenger services at Argyle International Airport. EasySky, which began flying to St. Vincent from Havana, Cuba in June 2017, is currently in negotiations with authorities to recommence its twice weekly service.[8] Argyle International Airport has non-stop flights to Canada and the United States. The airport receives many international charter flights and is also an important freight airport, which provides cold storage and standard cargo transport. Amerijet International, increased their airlift capacity, using larger aircraft such as the Boeing 767-300 to move more cargo into and out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The busiest international routes are Toronto and New York, while the busiest regional routes remain Barbados and Trinidad. One Caribbean has filed an application for a Foreign Air Carrier Permit with the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) ahead of plans to offer ad-hoc charter flights to any point(s) in the United States from St. Vincent & the Grenadines and other OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) countries.[9]

The following airlines operate regular scheduled, charter flights, domestic and international flights to and from Argyle International Airport:[10]

Airlines and destinationsEdit

PassengerEdit

AirlinesDestinations
Air Canada Rouge Toronto–Pearson (suspended; resumes 11 April 2021) [11]
American Airlines Miami
Caribbean Airlines Barbados, Grenada, New York–JFK, Port of Spain
InterCaribbean Airways Barbados, Dominica–Douglas-Charles, Grenada
LIAT Antigua, Barbados, Castries, Dominica–Douglas-Charles, Grenada[12]
Virgin Atlantic London–Heathrow (begins June 23, 2021)1 [13]
Note

1: Virgin Atlantic's London Heathrow to St Vincent-Argyle flights stop in Antigua in both directions. However, the airline does not have traffic rights to transport passengers solely between St Vincent-Argyle and Antigua in either direction.

CargoEdit

AirlinesDestinations
Air Cargo Carriers Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia–Charles, San Juan
Amerijet International Barbados, Miami, Port-of-Spain, Saint Lucia– Hewanorra
DHL Aviation Martinique, Grenada, Port-of-Spain, Saint Lucia–Charles
FedEx Express Aguadilla, Martinique, Grenada, Saint Lucia–Charles

StatisticsEdit

Busiest international flights out of Argyle International Airport by frequency as of 2018[14]
Rank Destinations (operated by) Frequency (Weekly) Carriers
1   Barbados 38 LIAT, Mustique Airways, One Caribbean, SVG Air
2   Trinidad and Tobago 23 Caribbean Airlines, LIAT, One Caribbean, SVG Air
3   Saint Lucia 9 LIAT, Mustique Airways, One Caribbean, SVG Air
4   Grenada 5 LIAT, One Caribbean, SVG Air
5   Toronto 2 Air Canada Rouge
6   New York City 1 Caribbean Airlines
7   Miami 2 American Airlines

Incidents and accidentsEdit

  • 26 August 2019 – A Saab 340 aircraft belonging to One Caribbean, apparently developed issues while departing from Argyle International Airport for Piarco International Airport in Trinidad and Tobago and skidded off the runway. The aircraft was not damaged and there were no injuries to the passengers.[18][19]

ControversyEdit

Some observers have questioned whether St. Vincent and the Grenadines needs an international airport. If it does, they ask, can the country afford to build – and maintain – an international airport while running an EC$151 million deficit as of February 2016. All of this was with public sector expenses increasing (Prime Minister Gonsalves announced in parliament in January 2016 that wages and salaries for central government employees would experience a "huge increase" in 2016 by 7.3 million EC dollars), taking the total to EC $281.8 million. The government also owes the private sector nearly 100 million East Caribbean dollars.

The new airport was originally scheduled to open in 2011. As of February 2016 the project has cost in excess of EC $729 million with increases in costs expected and has suffered from many delays. Paving on the runway was still incomplete as of February 2016.[20]

In a "historic" address on 8 August 2005, Prime Minister Gonsalves stated, "Foreign investors often shy away from St. Vincent and the Grenadines when the limitations of air access arise due to the absence of an international airport." Critics have responded saying that the prime minister's statement is invalid and incorrect: on the contrary, many foreign concerns have invested in St. Vincent and the Grenadines from as early as the 1960s, after the Arnos Vale airport was constructed (and later renamed in memory of the humble E.T. Joshua). These investments include the highly-successful Mustique Company which also uses a well-organised, very effective shuttle from Grantley Adams International in Barbados direct to Mustique – which has its own appropriately-sized airstrip. It is a historical fact that the airstrip on Mustique was deliberately restricted in size as a function of the vision for Mustique as a very private, ultra-luxury destination that, therefore, would not want to facilitate any aircraft with a capacity to carry more that six persons at a time to Mustique. Mustique Company runs an internationally renowned, private, exclusive resort – one of the most successful globally – catering to the world's wealthiest – and has done so for 50 years – all without an international airport in St. Vincent. This was also accomplished by the several mid to high-end tourism plants in Bequia, Union island and Canouan (which all have airports as well).

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ http://www.svgiadc.com/images/Publication/newsletter%202015%202nd%20qt.pdf
  2. ^ "Venezuelan Ambassador approves of Argyle International Airport", Searchlight, July 18, 2008.
  3. ^ "Argyle International Airport to open for chartered flights only, on February 14". Antigua Observer Newspaper. 29 December 2016. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Argyle International Airport to open for chartered flights only, on February 14". Antigua Observer Newspaper. 29 December 2016. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  5. ^ "St. Vincent and the Grenadines moves mountains for airport". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 20 September 2010. Retrieved 21 September 2010.
  6. ^ Grenadine Air Alliance
  7. ^ Ben Harrison - International Correspondent (17 February 2017). "SVG Air / Grenadine Air Alliance: Bridging the gap". The Vincentian Newspaper.
  8. ^ "EasySky to recommence flights from Cuba". News 784. 8 March 2018.
  9. ^ St Vincent’s One Caribbean eyes US charter flights CH-Aviation GmbH
  10. ^ Private Flights to St. Vincent and the Grenadines Air Charter Advisors. retrieved 3 August 2016
  11. ^ Air Canada suspends flights to SVG until April.
  12. ^ LIAT Schedule
  13. ^ Virgin Atlantic to launch first European flights to St Vincent.
  14. ^ All international routes from SVD-flightradar24 Totals calculated on 12/19/18 using raw data available at source.
  15. ^ "Caribbean Airlines aircraft makes emergency landing after takeoff from St. Vincent". Searchlight Newspaper. 29 August 2018. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  16. ^ Aviation Safety Network Flight Safety Foundation. 29 August 2018
  17. ^ "Bird strike forces Caribbean Airlines flight to return to T&T". Trinidad and Tobago Guardian Newspaper. 30 August 2018. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  18. ^ "Aircraft Skids Off Runway At AIA". News 784. 26 August 2019.
  19. ^ Aviation Safety Network Flight Safety Foundation. 26 August 2019
  20. ^ "Private sector didn't expect Argyle airport to be completed in 2014". iWitness News. 16 February 2015. Retrieved 23 August 2016.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

External video
  IADC Documentary: The construction of the Argyle International Airport

  This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.