Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit says while his Government recognizes the necessity of having an international airport, much emphasis will continue to be placed on improving the existing Melville Hall Airport infrastructure.
The Prime Minister in addressing the issue of air access during his 2012-2013 budget presentation earlier this week, says his government is now focused on increasing the number of flights coming into the country. .
“It is our view at this time, that this is one of the best approaches to increasing the number of flights into Dominica, and in a sense guarantee adequate airlift into Dominica and to guarantee a solid tourism sector,” said Hon. Skerrit.
LIAT has been identified as the only airline carrier bringing in an average of seventy percent of passengers to Dominica on a consistent basis.
Prime Minister Skerrit told Parliament that his Government will continue to dialogue with LIAT on increasing the number of flights coming into the island.
“The discussion with LIAT is part of a broader plan to improve airlift. In that context, discussions are also taking place with Air BVI, in collaboration with the DeVry University, to establish a service from Miami to Dominica,” he added.
Prime Minister Skerrit said his Government has realized the value of the regional airline company and recently made a decision to become a shareholder of LIAT and invest into its long-term sustainability.
“The Government of Dominica is fully aware of the challenges faced by LIAT, and the necessity for there to be increased efficiency in the operations of the airline. But it would unwise on our part, not to take a broad view of this matter.”
American Eagle which currently services Dominica from San Juan will officially terminate its Puerto Rico hub in March of 2013. Prime Minister Skerrit said LIAT is the only airline readily keen on replacing that service.
“Further service by American Eagle is in doubt and at present only LIAT has the type of aircraft and navigational assets, though limited, to effectively replace that service.”
LIAT is the only regular service provider currently connecting Dominica to the regional hubs of Antigua and Barbados.
The Prime Minister in stating some facts on air access said, “Dominica is almost solely dependent on LIAT to bring in the bulk of non-French Caribbean and European, particularly UK visitors which when combined account for almost 40 percent of arriving visitors.”