Operators of a new airline which promises direct flights from Ft. Lauderdale in Florida, to Dominica, have opted for silence on its operations, at least for now.
In response to a series of questions posed by Dominica News Online, Marketing Director, Jeffrey Wade said no comments will be made at this time “until we have released our official press release which will happen within the next several weeks.”
“We still have much work to do and it is imperative that the information we release is as accurate as possible regarding the launch of CIT Airways,” he stated. “We will offer our official press release to you as soon as we have fulfilled our requirements to provide safe, quality air travel.”
CIT Airlines (Caribbean Island Transport) has said on its website that it will begin offering flights to Dominica in January 2014.
Last week Wade, told DNO that negotiations with the government are in the final stages.
“We have a meeting scheduled in Dominica next week with the prime minister as well as the Minister of Transport,” he said.
News of the airline has generated much discussion in Dominica and theories abound of its true purpose.
Some say the airline will open a new route to an island which authorities have admitted suffer from severe lack of air access. Others describe the company as a “fly by night” preying on the very issue of lack of air access.
Others have taken to criticizing the airline’s website, describing it as ‘amateurish’ at best.
Some are of the opinion that the government is behind the entire matter to bring overseas voters into Dominica when general elections are called.
However, head of the Dominica Airport and Sea Port Authority (DASPA), Benoit Bardouille, told Q95 on Tuesday morning that too many assumptions are being made without any facts.
“I think we are going ahead of ourselves in the sense that we are making all sort of assumptions without assimilating what the facts are,” he said. “No license has been given to the airline as we speak but we are in discussion. We have been looking at a proposal which we have, we are supposed to have some meetings with them to be able to further discuss some of the details that we have.”
According to Bardouille, local authorities must examine any business opportunity that is made available to the island “and to seek t0 utilize the airport in the best way possible that we can.”
“One of the things I would like to point out is that Dominica would like to have long range flights, especially to the US,” he said. “To increase, one, our visitor arrivals into Dominica. Two, we have a vibrant Ross University operating in Dominica and one of the things in most of our discussions is that they would like to have some form of direct access because it is becoming increasingly difficult for students to connect back on their short holiday to the mainland in the US because of all the various connections that they may have to make. If we have direct connections then it makes it a lot easier and helps in terms of the expansion plans for the university.”
Bardouille pointed out that due protocol has be to followed to allow the airline access to Dominica. “One has to look at the details,” he stated. “One has to examine all the facts and due protocol, due process has to be followed and so every request that comes to us has to be looked at.”
He also pointed out that the Melville Hall Airport is capable of handling a Boeing 737-300 which CIT said it could utilize for the service.
“That aircraft has landed in Dominica before and obviously we will look at all the necessary details because we do have guidelines that we have to operate with,” he noted. “But the airport has that capability and obviously we have to look at things such as weight, the payload of the aircraft and so on … based on the information we have, the aircraft has landed here before and is capable of utilizing the runway as is.”