Fri 16th Dec 2016

Not in the public interest to sell off E. T. Joshua airport to foreigners

Gonsalves told the SVG House of Assembly on Thursday 8 December 2016, that Argyle airport will be opened soon. He also said on a previous occasion that E. T. Joshua airport will be closed and the airport lands will be sold off to foreigners.

Given that Argyle airport has many flight safety hazards, it is not in the public interest to sell E. T. Joshua airport lands to foreigners. The many flight safety hazards at Argyle airport could cause the airport to be closed regularly. If this happens, and E. T. Joshua airport has been sold off, the people of SVG will be left stranded with no airport in St. Vincent.

Argyle airport has been a waste of EC$1.4 billion. It was built to accommodate B747-400T jumbo jets, but at most it will only have the same capability as E.T. Joshua airport, and will not be suitable for jumbo jet passenger flights.

The runway orientation of Argyle is significantly different to most other Caribbean runways. The runway orientation is perpendicular to the prevailing winds and would expose aircrafts to very dangerous, strong, gusty crosswinds. This is a major flight safety hazard and can cause a passenger aircraft to flip over.

Argyle is a waterlogged site and the Argyle runway has already failed a compaction test, and under the weight of a 400 tonne jumbo jet, the runway will simply break up, just like the windward highway.

Argyle airport has many other flight safety hazards including: there is a bird island in the path of final approach to landing and take-off, which can lead to bird strikes on the aircraft’s engines; the runway is exposed to flooding by the Yambou River overflowing and making the runway unusable; the width of the runway is only half the required width for an instruments runway, making the runway dangerous and unusable for landing and take-off in bad weather; and, the airport will not achieve the 95% usability factor.

According to the Leader of SVG Green Party, Mr Ivan O’Neal BSc(hons), MSc, MBA, the focus on Argyle has killed our economy and swamped the country with poverty, squalor and high unemployment.

The ULP regime has already admitted that Argyle will not make a profit and will cost more to run than it will make. Argyle should not be opened. Airlines are not overly keen to fly to Argyle. The ULP regime has revealed that the only way to get bigger airlines to fly to Argyle is to pay them. This will waste millions of dollars more and would be an economic disaster, plunging our country further in to debt.

The EC$1.4 billion should have been spent on restructuring our economy, creating thousands of new jobs for our people, building our own SVG tuna fishing and canning industry with an annual revenue of about EC$2 billion dollars, building factories, building new hospitals and building a university to create a knowledge-based economy.

It was foolish for Gonsalves to have wasted about EC$1.4 billion on Argyle airport. It would be foolish and not in the public interest to sell off E. T. Joshua airport to foreigners as the people of SVG could be left stranded with no functioning airport in St. Vincent frequently.

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