Secluded Caribbean Destination to Get $217M Airport

Officials of St. Vincent and the Grenadines have made headway in the plan to make the multi-island country more accessible with the groundbreaking on the Argyle International Airport. The development, which carries a price tag of $217, million will mark the country’s largest project ever to be undertaken. The new facility will occupy a 375-acre parcel that is currently home to the Joshua Airport. Upon Argyle’s scheduled completion in 2011, the former airport will be transformed for commercial use. Prime Minister Ralph E. Gonsalves and the International Airport Development Company (IADC) – the state-owned entity that will manage the airport – presided over the ground-breaking for the country’s first-ever international airport. Actual construction is slated to begin in August. Set to replace St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ current E.T. Joshua Airport by late 2011, the Argyle International Airport – so named for the coastal area on St. Vincent that it will occupy – will effectively open up the 32-island nation to non-stop and direct flights from key U.S. and Canadian gateways, Latin America and such international capitals as London – driving new arrivals, generating jobs and spurring investment in tourism, commercial and agricultural sectors. “News of our first international airport with its world-class design is already sparking new investments,” said Minister of Tourism Glen Beache in a statement. The project is the country’s largest, most expansive venture in its history. With 375 acres of land to be developed on the eastern coast of St. Vincent, the facility will feature a 9,000-foot runway, able to accommodate Boeing 747-400, 737, and 767, Airbus 300 and 320, as well as MD80 jet aircraft. In addition, a modern, well-conceived 53,820 square-foot terminal will give St. Vincent and the Grenadines the ability to cope with further future expansion. Upon completion, the airport expects to employ some 400 workers. At that time, E.T. Joshua Airport, in operation since 1960, will be converted for use by commercial properties and businesses. Final plans and construction on that 63-acre site will proceed once most of the work on Argyle International Airport has been completed. The Argyle International Airport will occupy $40 million in land purchased from local homeowners and farmers in Argyle, St. Vincent. The funding required to purchase this land is being raised by the local government’s sale of other state-owned land.