First scheduled international non-stop flight lands at Argyle International
Several Vincentians who used the Air Canada Rouge first regularly scheduled international non-stop flight to the Argyle International Airport (AIA) have described the flight, as âa blessingâ and âmost welcomed.â
Last Thursday, December 14, about 136 persons arrived at the AIA onboard the historic flight, which originated in Toronto, Canada.
SEARCHLIGHT spoke with a few of the passengers to get a sense of how persons felt to be able to at last fly directly to St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), leaving behind the hassle, such as delays and stayovers, associated with having to transit through another airport.
âMan, I canât complain; pretty good; I enjoy it. I am not lying; when my boss told me I am flying to St Vincent, watch, thatâs when I drop straight on my knees,â farm worker Ivsow âPowerâ Shallow commented, after exiting the customs area of the AIA.
The Byera resident said he has been working in Canada for eight years and his flights home have always had issues.
âToo much ah beating up (issues) we getting in Trinidad,â said Shallow, who thanked the Government for the AIA initiative.
He revealed that during one of his trips home, he landed in Barbados and had to sleep on the floor of the airport, as LIAT pilots were on strike and he could not get a flight home. He also said that last year, Last week, this country welcomed its first regularly scheduled international non-stop flight to the Argyle International Airport (AIA) from Toronto.
And, plans are in place to do the same with flights from North America and Europe.
Chief executive officer (CEO) of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority (SVGTA) Glen Beache, speaking last Thursday at the AIA, after the landing of the Air Canada Rouge flight, said the SVGTA continues to speak to airlines from around the world, and there will be announcements to be made early in the New Year.
He said that 2017 has been an historic year, noting that flight dates will be released this week in relation to direct flights in 2018.
âCanada is taken care of as far as Carnival is concerned,â promised Beache, noting once again that Air Canada Rouge will come to the AIA every Thursday up until April, after which Sunwing charters will run from April to August.
Speaking during the same ceremony, Minister of Tourism Cecil McKie said the journey to have the AIA built and receive regularly scheduled flights started over 10 years ago and this was a very important and worthwhile decision.
âThis journey started with a reality call and then a vision,â said McKie, who admitted that while we have a beautiful country, a varied tourism product, and some of the most hospitable people anywhere on the planet, all this together is not sufficient to boost tourism.
âWe cannot keep all of these positive attributes to ourselves. Where the tourism product is concerned, we have to have the opportunity to show off all of these positive attributes and we have to be able to sell them and we all have to be aware of the fact that our major hindrance was access to the destination St Vincent and the Grenadines.â
He said the AIA allows easier and cheaper access to our destination and the staff did their part to establish the standards, while making adjustments to meet requirements of international travel.
âWe started with charters in February, June, July and October and EasySky and Caribbean Airlines (CAL) flights, but today, just over 300 days laterâ¦when it took our close neighbours over two years to get scheduled flights, St Vincent and the Grenadines can proudly say that we welcomed our very first long haul, non-stop, direct flight from Toronto, Canada. What an achievement for this country in nine limited months,â said McKie.
McKie thanked Air Canada Rouge for establishing a relationship and contract to fly to the AIA in a scheduled way, while he also noted that the upcoming Sunwing charters are all filled.
ââ¦And very soon, we will be able to announce scheduled flights from other parts of North America and we are aggressively pursuing our ability to also announce scheduled direct flights from the UK. So, very shortly you will get an update and we will be able to confirm those announcements,â said McKie.
He encouraged persons to come home, as the country has festivals and activities to engage them all year round.(LC)