The Canefield Airport

The future of Canefield Airport remains a  thorny issue for the authorities here who have indicated that they are examining options to try to ensure that the small facility on the outskirts of the capital Roseau is made viable.

The Chairman of the Dominica Air and SeaPort Authority – DASPA, Dermot Southwell, has admitted that the stalemate situation at Canefield “is posing a financial challenge to DASPA”.

There are no regular flights at the tiny airport which had been very popular with air travelers wanting to avoid the long inland route to their homes when coming in or leaving via the larger Melville Hall Airport.

“The traffic (or lack of) does not permit it to be a viable operation, yet we have to discuss with government ways and means of maintaining Canefield Airport if they so desire to keep the airport open,” Southwell said.

He disclosed that it was costing DASPA well over $1-million to keep the airport open.

Southwell said the challenge was to find funds to maintain Canefield Airport which he acknowledged could prove important in the case of an emergency “in case there is a blockade on the highway to Melville Hall, we realize that Canefield would have to spring into action and be there for continued air services into Dominica”.

According to DASPA CEO Benoit Bardouille, the traffic at Canefield at the moment is down to Fedex and DHL services and two small aircraft using the facility on a weekly basis.

Liat’s decision to move all its service to Melville Hall Airport put a serious dent into problem-plagued Canefield.

“Any air traffic controller will tell you that Canefiel d has its own challenges of landing on either end of the runway at Canefield with the cross-winds that you have,” Bardouille explained while speaking on a programme on state-owned  DBS on Thursday.

He has admitted that DASPA “is not too sure” what is going to happen to the Canefield Airport.

However Bardouille, Southwell and other key officials say they are trying to find ways to make the strategically-located facility viable, a challenge they acknowledge is a tough one to overcome.