Today February 14, 2018, marks one year since operations commenced at the Argyle International Airport (AIA) here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Earthworks on the airport commenced in August 2008, and on February 14, 2017, the AIA began operations.
The final cost of building the airport has been put at approximately $700 million.
By and large the Vincentian public has embraced the opening of the Argyle International Airport, and today many are of high praise for the facility which is set to attract more visitors to St. Vincent and the Grenadines as well as Direct Foreign Investors.
Mr. Kingsley DeFreitas, a taxi driver who operates services from the AIA to various locations throughout this country told WEFM News that during the first year of operations at the airport, he has seen an increase in visitors’ arrivals.
“Yes I see increase in visitors because we have direct flights coming from Canada, and we have CAL (Caribbean Airlines) who is having increased flights every day except Tuesdays, so there is an increase and the infrastructure is nice, so it will benefit the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Mr. DeFreitas said in an interview this morning with WEFM.
He noted that while business has increased somewhat, there are still some challenges, but he is optimistic that as time progresses, taxi drivers, and the tourism sector as a whole, will derive increased benefits from the operations of the Argyle International Airport.
“We are making a little bit more but it is still taking a toll on us because we have to pay more for operations at the airport. There is an operation fee; we have to buy more tires and we have to buy more gas. So while you have an increase of business, your expenditure is increasing along the way too. So it’s like you digging a hole to full a hole. While the business is there you don’t have enough to say this is what I benefit immediately after the airport open. We will see an increase after a period of time when we see additional flights start to come to the AIA, but as it is, it is just on the surface that we doing relatively ok, said Mr. DeFreitas.
Mr. DeFreitas went on to state that the Management of the Argyle International Airport, the Minister of Tourism and the CEO of the SVG Tourism Authority are always encouraging taxi operators to strive for standards and while they as taxi operators are doing do, the Tourism Officials are also working diligently to market St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and there are indications that the marketing is working because of the increased flights that have been coming here since the opening of the AIA in February last year.
Meanwhile, Linda Abraham, a student of the SVG Community College Division of Technical and Vocational Education, Department of Business and General Studies said she sees the AIA as having tremendous benefits for young people in this country.
“I think it’s very beneficial to us as Vincentians and to us as students because for those of us who want to further our education travelling will be much easier for us and it will also increase our economy growth,” said Abraham.
We are now enjoying our third month of direct, weekly flights of Air Canada from Toronto to Argyle International Airport. This has been supplemented by regular flights from Sunwing Airlines. And Caribbean Airlines (CAL) is scheduled to begin weekly, direct flights between Argyle International and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on March 14, National Heroes Day.