The Canefield airport will soon see new life as a new locally based airline service is set to ‘take off’ from there in a few months.
Humming BirdAir, which is starting operations with a 9-seater aircraft, is an initiative of hotelier Sam Raphael and it will be offering chartered flights, with mixed passengers and cargo, from the hub of San Juan, Puerto Rico and The United States Virgin Islands to the Canefield airport.
Raphael, who is the proprietor of Jungle Bay Resort and Spa, told DNO the service aims to reduce flight delays and setbacks of commuters to Dominica, although it will not completely solve the island’s air access issues.
“We had a melt down,” he said referring to recent problems experienced by regional airline, LIAT.”And it’s just made it abundantly clear that we definitely need this intervention because most recently as a hotelier I have seen difficulty in getting here is getting worse and worse … right now we have guests that come stay with us and they eventually make it but their response is that they couldn’t recommend Dominica or think of returning unless we fix our air access problems.”
Raphael said air access has been having an impact on his business and getting people interested in Dominica who are not happy about returning or even recommending the destination to others.
“Most recently I have had to deal with cancellations both of people en route to Jungle Bay,” he explained. “They get stuck half way because of the connecting flight. In many cases we have had people turn around and go back home and we have had to provide full refund.”
To make matters worse, Raphael said there have been cases where future bookings have been cancelled, with further costs to his resort. “One day this week I have had two cancellations,” he lamented. “I lost US$10,000 in bookings from future cancellations because people don’t feel confident that they would be able to enjoy their honey moon and travel here.”
He mentioned that the aircraft would serve as a connector when visitors come to the island or to multi destinations. It will also serve as a carrier for local produce and can safely transport at least 2,000 pounds.
It is expected to be launched in October or early November of this year.
In recent weeks, LIAT has been the subject of much criticism from travelers in what has been dubbed its summer ‘meltdown.’