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Airport being built under ICAO guidelines – PM

Airport being built under ICAO guidelines – PM

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The international airport at Argyle is being constructed under the guidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).{{more}}

And according to Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), which is the national aviation authority of the United States, is not the authoritative body that will be approving the airport, but construction is in keeping with the guidelines of the ICAO, and he said that they were working along with the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA), which is a contracting party to the ICAO.

Gonsalves was responding on Monday, during a press conference, to a comment made by Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace during a recent town hall meeting in New York.

Eustace made the point again on Monday on the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) ‘New Times’ radio programme, saying that the ICAO was the governing body that has to approve the airport.

“If they don’t approve it, in other words give it a go ahead, the big aircraft ain’t coming here,” Eustace explained.

“It is a United Nations based organisation…if they give you a bad word there, no plane coming here,” he said.

Eustace explained that the airport needed to satisfy institutions such as the ICAO first and if they did not approve, then the FAA was not going to permit US airlines to operate here.

“People pretending they don’t understand that – it’s so much nonsense that is taken for common sense here it ain’t funny – and we need to get past those hurdles for the airport to have any meaning,” Eustace said.

But Gonsalves fired back, saying that the Opposition has been making every attempt to roadblock the airport project.

“They think people forget; I haven’t forgotten… you know, and as I come to the terminal stages of this project, I am waiting, but I am beginning to give the backdrop of the conversation here, because all of them will be shamed into silence,” the Prime Minister said.

He explained that he had been saying all along that they have been working along in accordance with the guidelines of ICAO.

Statements were also made on television, he said.

“No, they believe those things too complex for people,” Gonsalves said.

He further cited a letter sent to the Director of Airports Corsel Robertson on March 15 from the Director General of the ECCAA Donald McPhail, which, according to the Prime Minister, confirmed all that he had said.

The letter stated: “While the information received provides a historic and current overview of the project, it does not provide the technical details our office requires prior to its next scheduled visit and before they have their scheduled visits, ECCAA has to receive certain kinds of technical information.

“As you are aware, the ECCAA being the civil aviation authority for the OECS member states in meeting its mandate is required to carry out safety, security and regulatory requirements within the OECS member states which falls under its jurisdiction,” McPhail included in the letter.

The director general stated that his organisation was also responsible for ensuring that the applicable standards and recommended practices of the ICAO are being adhered to.

The letter went on to highlight some of the functions of ECCAA which included monitoring progress of the project; meeting with representatives of the International Airport Development Company (IADC) and members of the government; visiting the site periodically to inspect various aspects of the project and giving its final approval for the operation of the airport upon completion.

“On this occasion, due to the advanced stage of the airport and to facilitate more efficient inspections, our office requested an update on the project, however the information provided cannot facilitate the process. We therefore request that you provide the technical information as per our request contained in our letter February 4, 2013, so that we may proceed. Please be advised that the next site visit will be scheduled within two weeks after the receipt of the requested update,” the letter stated.

“This confirms what I have been telling the country,” Gonsalves told members of the media.

So, in the end, when ECCAA makes any approvals, there are no surprises, he explained. (DD)

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