Maurice Bishop Airport
|Operator||Grenada Airports Authority|
|Location||St. George's, Grenada|
|Elevation AMSL||41 ft / 12 m|
Maurice Bishop International Airport (IATA: GND, ICAO: TGPY), formerly known as Point Salines Airport, is an international airport located in the parish of St. George's. The town of St. George's is about 5 mi (8.0 km) north of the airport and is the capital of the island nation of Grenada. The airport is located on Point Salines, the most southwestern point of the island. It is named after former Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, who championed the construction project in 1979.
The building of the airport — designed to replace the obsolete Pearls Airport on the north side of the island — was cited by U.S. President Ronald Reagan as evidence that the Grenadian government intended to allow it to be used as a way point for Soviet military aircraft en route to Cuba. He buttressed this claim with the evidence that it was being built, in part, by Cuban workers.
Bishop and his government contended that the Point Salines airport was intended to make the island more accessible to European and North American tourists. The long-range jets that carried such tourists could not land on the short and geographically difficult runway at the existing airport, Pearls. As a result, tourists bound for Grenada had to put up with the delays, expenses and perceived risks of changing to smaller planes flown by regional carriers. The Grenadian government said they hoped their tourist trade would dramatically increase if direct flights from Europe and North America were possible. The airport itself was designed by a Canadian firm and specialized construction contracts were awarded to European contractors. Two private American construction firms also participated in the project.
The unfinished airport was chosen as the jump-off point for the invasion of Grenada by the United States in October 1983. The event that precipitated the U.S.-led invasion was not the construction of the airport, but, rather, a violent coup in which Prime Minister Maurice Bishop was killed. The American justification for the invasion was the perceived threat to American medical students at St. George's University, whose campus is a short distance from the airport.
At dawn on Oct. 25, 1983, more than 500 Rangers from the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the United States Army 75th Ranger Regiment conducted a risky, low-altitude parachute assault onto the unfinished airport. Despite resistance from Grenadian armed forces (PRA - People's Revolutionary Army) and armed Cuban construction workers, the Rangers secured all of their objectives on the airfield quickly. The seizure of the airfield allowed United States Air Force C-141 transport planes to land, beginning at 2:05 P.M., and unload six battalions of paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division, the follow-on occupation force.
After the invasion, Point Salines International Airport was completed with $19 million in American assistance and landed its first commercial passenger plane on Oct. 28, 1984. The airport was renamed for the late Prime Minister in 2009.
Airlines and destinations
The following airlines serve Grenada:
|American Airlines||Charlotte, Miami|
|Caribbean Airlines||Barbados, Port of Spain, Saint Vincent–Argyle|
|Delta Air Lines||Seasonal: Atlanta|
|Virgin Atlantic||London–Heathrow (begins 2 November 2020)|
- Airport information for TGPY at World Aero Data. Data current as of October 2006.Source: DAFIF.
- Airport information for GND at Great Circle Mapper. Source: DAFIF (effective October 2006).
- "Address to the Nation on Defense and National Security | Ronald Reagan Presidential Library - National Archives and Records Administration". www.reaganlibrary.gov. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
- Kukielski, Philip (2019). The U.S. Invasion of Grenada; Legacy of a Flawed Victory. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Co. pp. 51–53, 78–83, 115. ISBN 978-1-4766-7879-5.
- "102583a | Ronald Reagan Presidential Library - National Archives and Records Administration". www.reaganlibrary.gov. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
- Treaster, Joseph B. (1984-10-29). "New Airport, Still Unfinished, Is Open in Grenada". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
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