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Counting down to February 14

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Step by step, we are almost there.

Yesterday, we got news that the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) had given the green light for the Argyle International Airport (AIA) to begin operations as an airport on February 14, 2017. Later that day, the St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority released details of the first North American charter confirmed to land at the AIA – a Sunwing flight that will arrive here from Canada at 3:40 p.m. on February 14.

These are exciting times for most Vincentians, at home and abroad. God knows we have waited for decades to see the realization of an airport capable of landing larger, long haul passenger aircraft from North America and Europe. Not only have we waited, we have sacrificed.

We began building this airport, the largest capital project in the history of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), in 2008, just as the world plunged into a deep economic crisis. Had we embarked on this venture one year later, it is unlikely that we would have been able to pull together the finances we did to see it to completion.

But thankfully, we have gone past the worst and are three weeks away from the official opening of our $729 million airport. While scores of workers at different levels are busy ensuring that they complete the tasks assigned to ensure that all goes well at the opening and beyond, there are others who not only wish ill to befall the airport, but are actively engaged trying to delay or stop the airport’s opening.

Last week, while addressing the ground breaking ceremony of the Black Sands Resort at Peter’s Hope, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves shared with his audience that certain people had contacted the owner of an airline company interested in flying into St Vincent, as well as the regional airport certifying agency (ECCAA), telling them that the AIA is not safe. Now, if what the Prime Minister says is true, and we have no reason to doubt the veracity of his statements, there are some very misguided, possibly unwell people out there. And if perchance, the people making these calls are Vincentians, they are in a particularly dire state, as they are seeking to harm themselves.

Why would individuals call an agency charged with certifying an airport to tell that agency that the very airport they are investigating is not safe? One would think that if any body, corporate or otherwise, is in a position to make a determination about the safety of the AIA, it would be the ECCAA. Also, have those who have spun the many conspiracy theories surrounding the construction of the AIA now spun their webs wider to include reputable agencies outside of SVG?

But to whose benefit would it have been if the AIA was not completed, did not get certification and could not be put into operation? We are not sure, but what we are sure of is that every Vincentian would have suffered if $729 million had gone down the drain. But that did not happen.

So, as we count down to February 14, we hope and trust that all will go well and that on that glorious day, the people of the great nation of St Vincent and the Grenadines will come together in unity to celebrate the remarkable achievement that is the Argyle International Airport.

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