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Today was the first full day of business at St Vincent’s “bridge to the world”, the new Argyle International Airport, following an official opening yesterday.
Excited Vincentians flocked to the facility to get a glimpse of the first flights out of the mega facility in the east of the island.
According to iWitness News, Dynamic Airways was one of several chartered flights which touched down on the 9,000-foot runway. Officials were also expecting other services from North America and Cuba.
But it was the sight of regional carrier LIAT gliding down the runway that evoked claps, smiles and cheers from Vincentians who were glad that the EC$700 million (US$259 million) facility, which ran over budget, is finally up and running after five years of being behind schedule.
But no one was happier than Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves who could hardly hide his emotion at yesterday’s flag-raising ceremony, where he reminded Vincentians and regional and international dignitaries that the small country could achieve its dreams.
“Whatever we set our minds to achieve, with patience and calm, we can achieve, as we have seen it here. This is a bridge to the world. And this plan didn’t just come from us. It is a combination of human intelligence and divine inspiration,” Gonsalves said.
The state-of-the-art facility features a terminal building that can host 1.5 million passengers annually.
Gonsalves praised the contributions of regional and international friends who contributed to the construction of the airport, including Turkey, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Cuba, Libya, Iran, Britain, Canada, and the United States.
He made a special appeal to Vincentians to put aside politics and embrace the airport as their own.
This evening, hundreds will gather at the airport for a massive, celebratory rally at which Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro is scheduled to speak.