Managing Director of Hummingbird Air, Sam Raphael, has said significant factors such as the rise in airport fees, among others, have caused the St. Croix-based airline to suspend its services.
Presently the company is in negotiation with a new management group to take over, Equity Management Team and the airline’s services will be suspended as of April 1.
Raphael told Dominica News Online (DNO) that of the factors causing the airline’s suspension of service, the “major contributing factor” is the airport fees in the US Virgin Islands that were “raised dramatically” last month.
Another contributing factor, according to him, is he not being able to allocate sufficient time towards the day to day running of the airline since he is presently occupied with the reconstruction of the Jungle Bay Resort. The resort was destroyed by Tropical Storm Erika and is being rebuilt in the Soufriere area.
“I just could not give the attention to the airline that it really needed. And so my focus is on the rebuilding of Jungle Bay which started on the first of January,” he said.
He stated that the airline service ran “very well” in its early stages, but after Erika ravaged Dominica, it greatly affected Jungle Bay Resort and so ample time and energy had to be focused on bringing operations at the resort back to normalcy.
He thinks that the decision to suspend the aviation services was a “right move,” and “necessary” from an economic perspective.
“So we had to have the service interruption. It is unfortunate that we had to make the change for both the staff and our customers, but at this point, I think it is the right move to make and from an economic standpoint, it was necessary,” Raphael said.
In terms of the possible reopening of the aviation services, Raphael said that “the assets are there” and the company is still valuable, but he does not know exactly what is going to happen in the future.
The airline voluntarily suspended its passenger service in November 2015 after a landing incident in St. Lucia. The St. Lucia incident and an earlier Barbuda incident were both attributed to pilot error.
Hummingbird Air began commercial flights to the Canefield Airport from the US Virgin Islands in 2014. Flights to St. Lucia were added after that.