American Airlines lands at AIA for the first time
“It’s AA at AIA,” declared the Prime Minister after the largest airline in the world, American Airlines (AA), touched down on the runway of Argyle International (AIA) last Saturday afternoon.
When the AA 1427 service landed for the first time at the AIA, shortly before its scheduled arrival time of 3:40 pm last Saturday afternoon, the passengers received a special welcome.
Dignitaries including the Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, his wife Eloise Gonsalves, Governor General Sir Frederick Ballantyne, and Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar, were all present to witness the touchdown.
The Prime Minister and his wife both greeted some of the disembarking passengers, and finally the pilots responsible for guiding the plane to the AIA.
Miss St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) 2018, Shellisa Nanton, in full regalia, also stood to greet the passengers while they shuffled along the jet bridge, while representatives of the St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) Tourism Authority handed out gift bags.
Each arriving traveller was given a bag which contained a flight certificate, a mug, a beauty pack from Jazzy’s All Natural Vincy products, a pack of Grenadine sea salt, and a book on SVG.
All of these activities were conducted to background music of the steel pan, being played by popular local pannist, Rodney Small.
As the dignitaries and the AA pilots took their seats in the adjacent departure lounge, a short ribbon cutting ceremony began, in which the first to speak was Managing Director for the Caribbean, for American Airlines, Alfredo Gonsalez.
“Many of you here have played a key role in making this flight a reality, and I’d like to thank you for your efforts,” he said.
In particular, he thanked the Prime Minister, the Governor General, the Minister of Tourism, Cecil McKie, the Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of the Tourism Authority, Glen Beache, and the CEO of the AIA, Hadley Bourne.
The Managing Director assured, “We thank you for your hard work in welcoming American Airlines to the beautiful island of St Vincent and the Grenadines. We’re thrilled to be here,” and to strengthen their network in the Caribbean, which they (AA) have been growing since 1971.
“We look forward to seeing you on board,” he ended.
Minister McKie, all smiles and fresh off the Miami flight himself, which he said was smooth and enjoyable, was the next to take the microphone.
“I had an opportunity to be a part of the ceremony in Miami as we welcomed passengers who chose to be part of the historic moment, Miami-St Vincent and the Grenadines,” he commented, saying that likewise he would like to congratulate the passengers who would be shortly leaving on that plane back to Miami.
He extended congratulations to AA for a “very wise decision,” commenting, “I am confident that this is going to be a win-win situation for American Airlines, the passengers, and for St Vincent and the Grenadines. I am confident that this is going to make flying to the destinations cheaper, and easier.”
The Prime Minister was the last speaker, and as he took the podium he addressed the public, saying, “The people of St Vincent and the Grenadines, travelling public, who have been waiting on this flight for quite a while, we are happy that you are here…It’s AA at AIA,” he announced.
He commented on the attention that the event was getting, pointing out that there were cars lined up near and above the airport, positioned to see the plane land.
“That’s to tell you the great interest which we have taken in this, we’re very proud of our partnership, we’re looking forward to strengthening it, and we are hoping that we will grow from strength to strength,” he ended.
Gonsalves then cut the ribbon, with assistance from Gonsalez, to commemorate the inaugural AA flight, and pieces of the red ribbon were handed out to onlooking officials.
The departing passengers to Miami were also given a gift bag from the Tourism Authority.
The atmosphere was an anticipatory one as outside of the arriving passengers, sections family and friends waited for their loved ones; persons expressing that they were feeling very happy. One woman who said that she was waiting for her grandson’s dad, who is a policeman in Bermuda, noted that while it wasn’t difficult for him to travel before, now he won’t have to go through Barbados, but could come straight from Miami.
This flight will be the first in a year-round service which will operate every Saturday between the Miami International Airport and the Argyle International Airport. The flight will leave Miami at 11am, arrive in SVG at 3:40pm, then leave SVG at 4:45pm and arrive in Miami at 7:50pm.