St. Vincent's new airport on schedule to open in late 2013

By Gay Nagle Myers
Construction remains on schedule at the $250 million Argyle Airport in St. Vincent, according to Glen Beache, CEO of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority.

The airport is slated to open in November 2013 with the first international flights scheduled to arrive in early 2014, according to Beache.

"We are in negotiations with several U.S., U.K. and Canadian carriers now, and we will know more by the end of the year regarding the international lift into the airport," he said.

"The passenger terminal building is six weeks ahead of schedule, and if the weather holds, we're hoping that this pace of construction will continue," Beache said.

The terminal, with 171,000 square feet of floor space, is designed to handle 1.5 million passengers per year, five times the capacity of E.T. Joshua Airport.

Paving of the runways, taxiways and aprons will start in three months. The airport will be able to accommodate Boeing 747-400s.

The government financed close to $220 million for the airport, and the remaining $30 million came from a number of countries, which Beache described as the "coalition of the willing," including Taiwan, Mexico, Canada, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela and the U.S.

Several of these countries also are supplying engineers and construction teams. Cuban and Mexican teams, for example, will be tasked with paving the runways once that phase of construction begins.

"This airport is a major game-changer for us and for this region, not only for opening up St. Vincent to international travelers but also for enabling the huge diaspora who live outside the Caribbean to travel home more easily," Beache said.

Once the new Argyle Airport opens, the existing airport will be shut down and partially demolished.

"We plan to build a new city to be called New Kingstown on the site," Beache said. "The existing terminal building will be part of a mall that will be built there."

Follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly. 
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