ROUTES: St Vincent and Grenadines airport on course for 2013 opening

Abu Dhabi
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Everything remains on course for St Vincent and the Grenadines' Argyle International Airport to open in late 2013, according to Glen Beache, chief executive of the country's tourism authority.

The airport is the biggest development project in the island's history and has necessitated the levelling of a mountain and three hills, as well as the filling in of four valleys. Costing $240 million, it has also required the relocation of a church and its cemetery, as well as 70 homes.

Beache says that the tourism authority has been speaking to airlines since 2008 and is quite close to being able to report which carriers will be operating to the airport. He says that agreements with airlines will be in place by spring next year and he expects operations to Argyle airport from America, Canada and the UK from airports including London Gatwick, Puerto Rico, Florida, Atlanta and Toronto.

In addition to traffic from leisure passengers, Beache says that traffic would be provided by the country's diaspora returning to visit the island.

The airport will open with a capacity of 1.4 million passengers a year and has a runway that can accommodate any aircraft currently in production. Its opening will be celebrated by an special ceremony as well as events in New York, London and Toronto.