The Douglas Charles Airport at Melville Hall

Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit has blamed the passage of Hurricane Maria for the lack of progress in the construction of an international airport in Dominica.

Speaking in parliament last week in response to Opposition requests for the island’s position on the Citizenship by Investment Program, he said US$5-million have been set aside per month for the construction of such a facility. He said so far the Government has been able to set aside over EC$149 million.

“We said in the Parliament here of our intentions to build an international airport and the only reason why we are not more advanced now is because of the hurricane,” Skerrit stated. “This is the first government that has seriously pursued the international airport and EC$149,429,500 are in the account at the National bank. There is a standing order US$5 million each month.”

In April 2017, Skerrit revealed that it will cost about US$220 million to construct an international airport here.

He said that although the focus has shifted due to Maria, the money set aside for the airport has not been touch, “yet.”

The construction of an international airport has long been spoken about in Dominica and this is not the first time the administration has spoken about it.

In November 2013, during a visit to China, Skerrit signed a US$300-million deal with Chinese company ASCG with “reconstruction of an international airport” among projects to be undertaken under the agreement.

The following month, Skerrit said that engineers from China were in Dominica to visit the construction site proposed, in Compton Point near Calibishie, so as to provide advice to the government of Dominica.

At a Dominica Labour Party Rally on May 5, 2014, Skerrit said that his government was actively pursuing several projects, including the construction of an international airport through the BOOT – Build, Own, Operate and Transfer – option, with a team of private developers from China.

Later that same month, the Prime Minister led a three-man delegation to China to “advance discussions on the construction of an international airport and other development projects.”

Upon his return from China, Skerrit told reporters that “good progress” was being made on the project and a document will soon be made available to the public about the details. That document was never made public.

In March 2017, Skerrit spoke to a group of students from the North East Comprehensive School and said that the airport will be built in the north-eastern part of the island.

He said an American firm was engaged to do all of the studies in relation to the international airport and would be doing a presentation to the cabinet on the 21st of April, 2017 on its finding,

He did not disclose the name of the American firm.

At a town hall meeting in March, 2017, Skerrit vowed that an international airport will become a reality in Dominica.

“I shall focus my energies to ensure it, that we can get the funding to build this international airport for our people,” he remarked.