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“No compelling reasons to close George F. L. Charles Airport”: King

By SNO Staff

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George F. L. Charles Airport

George F. L. Charles Airport

Ports and Infrastructure Minister Stephenson King has said that although some sections of society have recommended that government close the George F. L. Charles Airport (GFLCA), he is not in support of such a move.

“Based on most studies done on Saint Lucia’s airports, there were no compelling reasons to close the George F. L. Charles Airport ,” King said on a television programme on Wednesday.

As a matter of fact, the minister said most of these reports, recommend improving the Hewanorra International Airport (HIA) and privatising GFLCA.

Persons have been questioning whether government should continue to operate two airports, given the fact that plans are in place to possibly redevelop HIA, making it both a regional and international airport.

However, King said, “George F.L.Charles Airport has served this country in many ways.”

Should the government move to make HIA the main airport, the minister said a road linking Vieux Fort to the North of the island should be constructed.

This will reduce the time that persons spend travelling from the airport to elsewhere in the country.

Meanwhile, King noted that the previous administration had sought the assistance of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Canadian government, to look at redeveloping the HIA.

However, he said that the new government will have to study the IFC’s evaluation and recommendations, as well as other development options to determine a way forward.

The Kenny Anthony government was in the process of entering into a Build, Own, Lease, Transfer (BOLT) arrangement or Public Private Partnership (PPP), with a company, to assist with the redevelopment of HIA.

Under this model, an experienced private company would finance the initiative and operate the airport for a finite period of time under the supervision of the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority, which would retain regulatory and monitor oversight, share in the revenues and retain ownership of the facility after 30 years.

But while in opposition, the United Workers Party had said it will not support the HIA Redevelopment Project.

Former Works Minister Guy Joseph had described the project as the “worst conceived” by any government of the region, while emphasizing that there are no direct benefits to be derived from this arrangement.

(13)(0)
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11 comments

  1. Think 15 years from now vigie as an extension to old castries with modern offices and hotel on the water front

    (1)(2)
  2. The same services provided at Hewanorra has to be provided at George Charles. That includes security, electricity, water, catering, firemen, maintenance to name a few. The airport has outlived its usefulness. That airport needs to close if St Lucia wants to see any development. Look at Barbados-one airport. Trinidad-one airport, Antigua-one airport, St Kitts-one airport. All these countries are doing well with one airport why can't we? King and all other past ministers have no understanding or even clout to come outright and take a decision.

    (4)(1)
    • What you need to ask yourself is during the christmas trauf yrs ago when HIA was closed, which airport has survived all of that.GEORGE FL CHARLES AIRPORT.

      (0)(0)
  3. Here are some compelling reasons: (1) our country is BROKE! (2) our country is in heavy debt - so heavily indebted that 75 cents of every $ that is earned goes towards paying debt; (3) our country's debt burden will increase as there is negligible economic growth, meaning that Government revenue will further decline, meaning that Government will be forced to borrow to maintain basic services; (4) with the Government having decided to reduce VAT, vehicle licenses etc, that lost revenue will either have to be replaced or expenditure will have to be cut; (5) George Charles Airport is losing traffic and money; (6) Hewanorra desperately needs to be redeveloped; (7) the money being used to keep George Charles on life support could be used to complete St. Jude and the Owen King Hospital, recruit qualified nurses and doctors, put more policemen on our streets, put more lawyers in the DPP's office.

    In my opinion George Charles airport should be closed, even temporarily until a plan for its viable use can be put into effect.

    (14)(14)
  4. That will be madness to close G.F.L Charles. Roll back the years September 10, 1994 Tropical Storm Debby. You remember what happen to H.I.A when water from the La Ressource River cut through the runway....GFL Charles save the day for Fair Helen.

    (15)(5)
    • To keep GFL open on the off chance it will be needed in a Debbie-like storm that hits us once in every 10, or 25 years, even though it's bleeding money, is akin to madness. As for the distance argument, Vieux-Fortians traveling to the Eastern Caribbean make the 90 minute drive to GFL Charles airport all the time. HIA is heavily underutilized. Most international flights arrive and depart within a 3 hour window - between midday and 3 O'Clock. During that time it's bursting at its seams. Travelers can't find seats; the a/c can't handle the load. HIA needs to be redeveloped. But to spend that amount of money on an airport for just 3 hours of use, while another airport an hour's drive away is losing money is ridiculous. Closing GCA to commercial traffic and moving existing traffic to HIA will justify the investment in redeveloping HIA as it would then be used for about 12 hours as opposed to 3 hours.

      (1)(1)
  5. Do nothing for now - keep on studying the pros & cons on this matter.
    For a very long time I've been hearing Vigie Airport should be closed,
    the reasons given normally are of a financial nature and the noise, well
    that's not enough to shut down an Air Port. Sorry guys, you got to come
    up with a more convincing argument , so for now, let ol' George sleep.
    Here is something for an argument:- What the hell you gonna do with
    the establishment? I'm waiting.

    (9)(9)
    • That its a bad financial decision isn't a good enough reason? That its low traffic does not justify its existence isn't a good enough reason? That our country is broke and we need to consolidate to lower cost isn't a good enough reason? That we we are getting someone else to build us a world class airport isn't a good enough reason?

      Dude, seriously?

      (3)(5)
      • Why the low traffic? Just because their is low traffic now, does not mean that is unchangeable. We have a significant amount of tourism business north of Morne Fortune. That and the Barre de L'isle inject a lot of travel time to and from the north of the island. Unless there is substantial reduction in travel time from VFort to the north, keep Vigie-SLU open. There is a need for continuous exist research on whether the travel to the north under current modes of transportation represent a downside for visitors not. We cannot afford to make those weighty decisions on pure get feelings or baseless emotions. Let's turn the leaf on such , our ridiculous short-sighted thinking past.

        (1)(0)

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