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The old airport (W.H. Bramble Airport (Blackburne) near the old capitol Plymouth) was destroyed by an eruption ash and lava from the nearby Soufriere Hills volcano in 1997. Between 1997 and 2005, Montserrat had no airport and was only accessible by helicopters or boats.. There is an airport in the remaining section of the island. Until 2008, it was called Gerald's Airport in Gerald's Park. It is now called the John A. Osborne Airport. The airport's name was changed in July 2008 to honour John Osborne, longstanding Chief Minister of Montserrat.
The passenger terminal was dedicated in February 2005 by Princess Anne and was formally opened on July 11, 2005. There is a 600 metre runway, a restaurant, modern air traffic control technology, immigration facilities, and is the only airport in the Caribbean with a public tunnel under its runway. The total cost of construction was approximately US$18.5 million.
The completion of this airport allowed for the resumption of regular commercial airline service to Montserrat for the first time since 1997. Between 1997 and 2005, Airlines that fly into Montserrat include Windward Islands Airways, more commonly known as Winair, which is a codeshare with US Airways, Caribbean Helicopters based in Antigua, and FlyMontserrat.
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If all you want to do is to see the volcano, the best way to do this is by helicopter tour. We did a tour from the Celebrity cruise ship with Caribbean Helicopters. We arrived at the airport by 0935 where we were given an instruction card to read (photo 5 shows the front of the instruction card), and then shown an instruction video and issued life belts. They lined us up more or less by size and put me second in line behind a larger man. He sat with his back to the pilot and Bob sat next to him (photo 4). I sat facing him and two of the other two ladies next to me and the wife of the other man next to the pilot. They seat belted us in, and gave us ear phones with a device to push if we wanted to talk. We took off about 10:00.
We flew over the harbor with the ships in it and in 10 minutes we were over the ocean heading to Montserrat. We were over the old airport by 1020. The entire tour is over the "exclusion zone", which is an area that has been designated off limits to habitation or ground transportation for the last 5 years. This is the only way to see this area. It doesn't take long. By 1050 we were on our way back to Antigua and we were back on the ground by 1100 (photo 2)
This tour is 45 minutes in duration and costs $ 240 U.S. per person. We paid less than that because it was a charter from the ship. There is a weight limit of 230 pounds per passenger for the six passengers that they take.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
Here was my itinerary: May...
Here was my itinerary: May 25th - departed National Airport on American Airlines at 11:00 AM, arrived Miami at 1:35 PM, departed Miami at 4:50 PM, arrived Antigua 8:30 PM, took taxi to Heritage Hotel at Heritage Quay in St. John's; May 26th - walked 2 minutes from hotel to ferry dock, paid $30 U.S. for 1-way ticket at 5:30 AM, departed St. John's on Opale Express at 6:30 AM, arrived Montserrat at Port Little Bay at 7:30 AM, departed by taxi (Sylvia Dyer) at 8:00 AM, arrived at villa at 9:00 AM (after I treated Sylvia to breakfast at The Attic Restaurant); June 6th - departed villa at 6:45 AM in rental jeep, arrived heliport at 7:05 AM, paid $66 U.S. plus $17 U.S. departure tax, departed by 8-passenger helicopter at 8:30 AM, arrived Antigua airport at 8:50 AM, departed Antigua on American Airlines at 12:30 PM, arrived San Juan, Puerto Rico at 2:00 PM, departed San Juan at 4:30 PM, arrived Miami at 7:00 PM, departed Miami at 7:45 PM, arrived National at 10:00 PM.
Rent a vehicle (I had a Suzuki JLX - a 2-door jeep) from Scottie & his wife, Semper (a policewoman who can direct you to the police station where you must obtain a temporary driving license for $12 U.S.), owners of KC Car Rental in Olveston. Cost was $230 U.S./week. Their phone is 664-491-5756.
IMPOSSIBLE TO GET THERE BY...
IMPOSSIBLE TO GET THERE BY PLANE. I FLEW TO THE NEIGHBORING ISLAND, ANTIGUA, AND TOOK A SUPPLY FERRY OVER.
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