The Caribbean’s most anticipated airport project has finally come to fruition.
The new Argyle International Airport on the island of St. Vincent receives its first-ever flights on Tuesday as the largest project in the history of the country.
The first flights to St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ new airport, charter service operated by Caribbean Airlines from New York, represent the end of a journey that first began in 2008.
The next flight will be a Dynamic Airways charter flight also departing John F Kennedy Airport on Tuesday.
While no major carriers have yet announced scheduled service to the airport, the debut of Argyle means the country can now, for the first time, receive large international aircraft thanks to a 9,000-foot runway.
That was a major engineering challenge thanks to St. Vincent’s notoriously hilly terrain, which called for the removal of three mountains before construction.
The debut marks the close of operations at St. Vincent’s ET Joshua airport, which had served the island for decades but had only been able to receive regional flights from neighboring islands in the Caribbean.
The question is what’s next for the airport; much of the country’s current tourism demand resides in the islands of the Grenadines and private island destinations like Palm Island, Petit St Vincent and Canouan (along with full-fledged island destinations like Bequia, as “mainland” St. Vincent has few hotels.
Up until now, travelers to those properties have typically flown first to Barbados, then on regional carriers like SVG Air.
Now, St. Vincent will have to win over those travelers (and airlines) with a compelling new push.