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The Island with Two Airports

The beautiful island of Saint Lucia has two airports. Although only 26 miles North to South, this might seem a little excessive but the reasons are easy to explain.

GEORGE CHARLES AIRPORT

The smaller of the two, originally known simply as Vigie Airport, is located in the North of the island. It’s too small to land large wide bodied jets and therefore for the most part services, inter-island travel. LIAT run daily schedules to most other islands direct or non-direct. For many years, American Eagle ran a regular, very useful service between Saint Lucia and Puerto Rico. This became the port of entry to the USA and from Puerto Rico you could fly anywhere in the United States.

August 4, 1997 –  Vigie Airport, was renamed the George F. L. Charles Airport.

This decision was taken by the Cabinet of Ministers in recognition of Mr. Charles’ dedicated service both as a champion in the struggles for the working class, and as a statesman.

One of the most significant events in Mr. Charles’ career as an advocate for the rights of the dispossessed, occurred in 1945, when he was employed as a time-keeper on the renovation and extension project of this same Vigie Airport. A wild cat strike (the first militant trade union action of the island) by workers on the project, placed him into sharp focus as he expressed solidarity with the workers. The workers at that time were affiliated to the St. Lucia workers cooperative union. Mr. Charles became secretary to the union branch.

The event at Vigie Airport marked the beginning of a l

ong and difficult struggle on behalf of the workers of St. Lucia. It is from this base that Mr. Charles launched into populist politics.

Mr. George Frederick Lawrence Charles was the first Minister of Education and Social Affairs and first Chief Minister of St. Lucia.

HEWANORRA AIRPORT

Hewanorra International Airport  UVF, located near Viuex Fort in the southern area of Saint Lucia is the larger of Saint Lucia’s two airports and is managed by the Saint Lucia Air and Seaports Authority (SLASPA). It is on the southern cape of the island, about 53.4 km (33.2 mi) from the capital city, Castries.

The airport is a Fire Category 9 facility that handles 500,000 passengers a year and can accommodate Boeing 777 and 747 and Airbus 340 and 300, and other long-range intercontinental aircraft. Aircraft maintenance is carried out by Caribbean Dispatch Services.

Hewanorra International Airport was originally named Beane Army Airfield and was used as a military airfield by the United States 6th AirForce during World War II. Beane Field was activated in early 1941 with a mission to defend Saint Lucia against an enemy attack.It was also used as a base/support airfield during the 1983 intervention in the nearby island of Grenada.

The former base was then refurbished and converted into a commercial airport.There is still a disused northeast/southwest runway north of the main east–west runway that was part of the military airfield.

The name of the airport is an Amerindian word meaning “[land of the] Iguana”, referring to what the Island Carib Indians called Saint Lucia.