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Getting the small and large things right

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It should be safe to say that our international airport would be opened some time in the next 12 months or so.

Construction crews are at work putting the finishing touches on the VIP areas in the terminal building, rails are being installed in the parking lot, while other work is taking place on the peripheral roads and other facilities on the outside.{{more}}

But while we wait on the Argyle International Airport to get to a state of physical readiness, what of the intangible aspects of our airport operation? We should use this extended wait on Argyle to take a critical look at how things are done at the ET Joshua airport and resolve to lift our game now, so that poor attitudes and service are not transferred to Argyle.

The incident last Monday when passengers had unusually long wait times to clear customs should be a wake-up call for all concerned, as it is unlikely that what transpired was a one-off event. Do we have sufficient redundancy built into our systems and do our team members know what course of action to take when plan A fails?

A taxi driver stationed at the airport complained recently in a letter to the editor about what he viewed as inadequate security at the ET Joshua airport and the underperformance of some police officers stationed there. He also spoke of his dissatisfaction with the job being done by persons responsible for cleaning the airport. We do not know how reliable are this gentleman’s observations, but we should put aside, for the moment, the messenger, and take a careful look at the message to see if the criticism is warranted. Are these the same police officers and service providers who will be operating at Argyle? And if so, do they operate at international standards?

If we do not begin to operate at a much higher standard now, why do we think on the day of the opening of the international airport that higher levels of professionalism will just kick in?

Liat, too, has been, for a very long time, dishing out a wholly unsatisfactory service to travellers into and out of this country. As this editorial is being written on Monday night, there are passengers at the ET Joshua airport who were supposed to travel to Trinidad since Sunday night, but are still uncertain about when they will leave this country. Last Saturday night, our national footballers were en route to Trinidad when the Liat flight they were on was cancelled mid-flight! Some of our footballers never arrived in Guatemala until Monday (yesterday). What frame of mind and what physical state will our footballers be in to play their final qualifying match today?

Even when international air carriers begin to fly into this country, it is reasonable to assume that for the forseeable future, LIAT will still move the bulk of passengers into and out of St Vincent. They, too, must do a whole lot better. We must get the small and large things right!

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