Boscobel welcomes first flight

Olivia Grange (centre), minister of youth, sports and culture, addresses reporters, while being flanked from left: Mark Hart, AAJ chairman, Jimmy Buffett, Chris Blackwell and Jason Henzell, president of Island Outpost. In the background is Buffett's private plane.

The Boscobel Aerodrome, on course to becoming the island’s third international airport, welcomed its first international flight on Friday when Jimmy Buffett of Margaritaville fame touched down in his single-engine aircraft around 10:30 a.m.

A welcoming party headed by Sports Minister Olivia Grange and including Airports Authority of Jamaica (AAJ) chairman Mark Hart, and Chris Blackwell, was on hand to mark the occasion.

The flight came ahead of the July deadline when the facility, which is still in its expansion phase, commences full operation, and an official opening planned for December to coincide with the start of the 2010-2011 winter tourist season.

Buffett, who flew in from The Bahamas, gave a thumbs-up to the facility, saying it saved time.

“I just got to say what a thrill it is to come directly into Boscobel; this just makes things so much easier,” Buffett said.

He also commended the processing by immigration officials who were brought in just for the occasion, saying the experience was “lovely”.

But Buffett might have inadvertently disclosed that the expanded facility would be named Ian Fleming Airport – in memory of the creator of the famed James Bond series – who lived and penned several of the James Bond stories just a few miles away at Golden Eye in Oracabessa, now owned by Blackwell.

“It’s the ease with which you come in and go out, which this airport – which I hope will be named Ian Fleming Airport – allows,” said Buffett.  Hart later responded in the affirmative when a reporter asked him if the facility would indeed be named Ian Flemming Airport. Grange tried to hide the revelation, butting in: “Well, we have to … we’re not going to pre-empt anything this morning. Sufficient to say we will have a name, and it will have a famous name.”

Blackwell referred to the Anguilla airport as being one that facilitates easy access by private aircraft and even smaller commercial planes, and suggested that such a model could be followed.  “When you establish something with ease to come in, it will attract people; it has a big effect on business. Any place that takes the pressure off Manley and Sangster (airports) is going to help,” Buffett said.

Grange thanked Buffett and had special commendation for Blackwell, saying:   “I want to use the opportunity to thank Chris Blackwell. He really must be commended because I remember the very first discussion about expanding the facility here and the opportunity that it will create, and in record time, it’s been a success.”  The minister also had special words of praise for ministers Robert Montague and Daryl Vaz for their input.

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