AA’s arrival – a big deal
Those making a big deal about last Saturday’s inaugural American Airlines (AA) flight to the Argyle International Airport (AIA) have been described by some as ‘new common’ or ‘never-see-come-see’, but when AA’s arrival at the AIA is placed in perspective, the Government and all the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) have every right to be proud and should celebrate with as much style as they wish.
Remember, the AIA is the very same airport which some gleefully proclaimed would never see the landing of a plane; then once that was proven wrong, the sceptics said that the AIA would never be cleared by the Transportation Security Administration of the United States Department of Homeland Security for use by United States carriers.
The dream of an international airport, capable of receiving direct flights from North America and Europe had seemed unattainable for generations of Vincentians given our topography and economic constraints. Politician after politician promised while we looked on with envy at our Caribbean neighbours whose tourism and export industries had taken off because of direct flights to larger markets and were able to travel north without the inconvenience and expense of an extra stop.
But on February 14, 2017, after years of struggle and sacrifice, we opened our international airport on a wing and a prayer. The task to construct and make the airport operational required considerable feats of engineering as well as tremendous skill and creativity in raising the necessary finances. Getting the major international carriers to sign up for regularly scheduled flights was another hurdle.
So for Vincentians to arrive at a point where in one week, we have the arrival of two scheduled Air Canada flights direct from Toronto (Sundays and Thursdays); a Caribbean Airlines flight direct from New York on Wednesdays; a Sunwing charter from Toronto this Thursday, in addition to the AA flight from Miami on Saturdays, is nothing short of miraculous.
And our Tourism officials are beaming.
Not only because of the arrival of the world’s largest airline, but because of significant developments over the week past and the week that has just begun.
Last week Monday, ‘The Liming’, a new luxury 25-room hotel opened on Bequia; on Tuesday, we welcomed the ARC+ SVG 2018 with 25 yachts and over 70 crew, family and friends; Last Friday saw the arrival of the Preziosa cruise ship with approximately 4000 passengers.
And this week, with fully booked regularly scheduled flights from LIAT, SVG Air, Mustique Airways, CAL, Air Canada Rouge, private charters, and now AA, all flying into the AIA, will be the busiest week in the history of our international airport.
Congratulations, AIA; congratulations to the SVG Tourism Authority; congratulations to the Government and people of SVG!