“Significant factors” cause suspension of Hummingbird Air services

A Hummingbird Air aircraft 

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.

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38 Comments

  1. not nice
    March 26, 2017

    With something like that there should have been 1 month or (2) of noticed that for some of us never check news or even media because of that game called politics now we a forced to cancel orders and that we placed days after the surfacing of this issue…come on you guys can do better than that..

  2. Dee
    March 20, 2017

    As disappointing as this news might be, we should be grateful that Sam tried. It’s unfortunate how difficult it will now be getting to the Virgin Islands. Knowing the kind of man Sam is, he will continue trying his best to provide employment for Dominicans. Now…let’s see what our Gov’t does to make travel out of Dca possible.

  3. Lang Mama
    March 20, 2017

    When Sam Rafael started this airline stated that the airline service play a significant part in alleviating the air access problems particularly for guess coming to his establishment. Now Sam is shutting down his airline service to focus on building another hotel even when air access to Dominica is getting more and more expensive and difficult. Makes no sense sense to me.
    If the airline is doing well why shut it down to ficus on a hotel construction. Why not put the construction in the hands of a professional.
    I get the feeling that if Sam says that the airline is doing bad it will be attestation of the economic situation in Dominica

  4. dr love
    March 20, 2017

    all the reason i have much respect for liat. alot of persons seat on the outside and criticize until they get into the business and see just how difficult running an airline is.

  5. only time will tell
    March 19, 2017

    my BIG problem with people like SAM is these guys move back to Dominica and have had it so HARD to get there business started and still having problems keeping up when we move back home to hem and do business its very hard in all ways but because these guys may get one or two hand out they never want to hear people say anything about how hard doing business can be and they keep making people think that things a good my brothers and sisters PLEASE PLEASE NAME ME ONE good business in Dominica that is doing good the way a business should be doing.

    • Anonymous
      March 20, 2017

      Well, Karl Nassief is one with Fine Foods and his other franchises but that is only because he branch out to St. Luca and St. Maarten. This is smart because it is too risky to put everything in one basked called Dominica and subject to the whims of one man and a President that can call people to boycit your business tomorrow because you do not support the regime.

    • Dee
      March 20, 2017

      I don’t think you are referring to the correct Sam. Sam is not the kind who has a problem with people talking about their hardships. In fact he would give advice as to how to deal with the hardship. This hand-put story don’t apply to Sam. Pas la.

  6. Shameless
    March 18, 2017

    Folks when are you guys going to get it. Dominica is a failed state and only mad people will close their eyes to this reality. Sam is no stupid businessman and if he is not seeing returns on his investment within a certain timeframe he will get out. The airline cannot survive if people don’t have money to fly and fill the seats at “reasonable” pricing or have a lot of cargo to transport. Even with the mail order business via St.Croix where the airline transports packages to Dca is not enough. It ALL boils down to money NOT flowing in the country.

    Why you think Sam is a passport vendor if the allegations are true? There is not enough money flowing in the country to sustain profitability. Zot-par-kar-tan Skerro Chuuway Dominique? Skirt MUST GOOO!

    Assertive like the rod of Moses! :twisted:

  7. anonymous2
    March 17, 2017

    You will probably consider bringing the airline back once Jungle Bay construction is finished because air transportation to this island is lacking. One person cannot do everything because there aren’t enough hours in the day and we run out of energy and time.

  8. Lang Mama
    March 17, 2017

    Sam Rafael if the airline is doing well you hire people to run the business of the airline. I guesz the free pasdport money is much easier work and little risk.

  9. analy thomas
    March 17, 2017

    I am so sorry to hear that because i think LIAT has stopped too. The more mature folks do not like Island hopping and would prefer a direct flight.

  10. ISIS
    March 17, 2017

    If a business is “valuable” why not seek competent personnel to assist with the day to day running of the operation. It is unfortunate that the airline (which will always face challenges) has to suffer because of the rebuilding efforts of the resort…I wish your company and staff well sir

    • zandoli
      March 17, 2017

      Do you believe everything people say? Sam got out of this business because he realized it would have eventually taken him down, both from the standpoint of it being a distraction and also it would have been a money pit.

  11. Love my country Dominica
    March 17, 2017

    Poor Dominica. This was a very serious airline. So much stress coming into Dominica by air. You over night in different islands before getting there. Mr. P.M. You there too many years now. . Don’t you think it’s time for international airport to be
    Built. We feed up with Liat and there none sense.

    • Shameless
      March 18, 2017

      :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: He going soon so at this point all he will do quiyonnayy (fool) Dominicans that are gullible.

      Assertive like the rod of Moses! :twisted:

    • only time will tell
      March 19, 2017

      my good friend am just asking do you own any business now or anytime in your life because I don’t thing you know how business runs you need to know LIAT is about business and is no way that they should keep running if they cant keep up with there bills would you keep putting gas in a bus to run and not making money ? lots of us in Dominica needs to stop working for people and start owning our own business only then you all will understand how this business life gos

  12. Moissav
    March 17, 2017

    he making more money selling passports!

  13. ShameOnSkerro
    March 16, 2017

    Its moments like these when you realize how limited capital is in Dominica. One slight negative factor and such neccesary services are forced to cease. Despite the demand, it seems like we can only progress in fits and starts. 3 years in and if Sam is busy, there’s NO ONE ELSE that can oversee this business line? One increase in fees and there’s no government subsidy or buffer to ease the strain? With all the hotels slated for operations in Dominica, isn’t it the entire nation’s best interest to support this airline?

    • zandoli
      March 17, 2017

      Supporting this airline would be like throwing money into a bottomless pit, because that is what the airline business is. It has always been like that.

      Sam has seen the light and he did the right thing. He needs to focus his energy on building and running his hotel. He has no experience in running an airline. That was a total distraction from his core competency.

    • Malatete
      March 18, 2017

      The airline was never Dominican although the founder is a Dominican and there is a great local affection for it. Its airplanes are on the U.S. register and it hub is St. Croix in the U.S.V.I., which is also its operating base. I hope a way will be found for it to survive and continue serving us.

  14. Dan is de man in de Van
    March 16, 2017

    What exactly is a Hotelier doing in the day to day running of Aviation.once again square pegs in round holes…. no more questions. Stand down. Thank u your honor… papa god who is running the affairs of Dominica koonoomoonoos or toddlers. Which ever one , we are heading no where… wake up Dominicans wake up…

  15. Is So
    March 16, 2017

    Hey sorry Bro, your wisdom and vision will enable you to go through the stormey water. Lifting you up.

  16. Tj
    March 16, 2017

    Sorry to see you go. LIAT not connecting DA to the Virgin Islands maybe the French airlines and Winair can help!

  17. ttesa n
    March 16, 2017

    International Airport coming soon soon. We’ll have many flights in and out with plenty legroom and extra M.T seats.

    • Dominican abroad
      March 17, 2017

      You’re being sarcastic, right? No need for that, just be forthright and say that coming to Dominica is not easy and expensive. Why pretend. Let’s make a feature of that and say that it is for the determined and affluent and sell our country accordingly. You know airlines make their real money off the economy- plus, business class and first class seats and much less on the economy/coach seats. Well, let Dominica be an exclusive place. I am a Dominican and it was always to me anyway and I’m not at all sorry for that.

  18. “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.”

    Man all of that is a damn lie, I never thought the time would come when I would have anything derogatory about you Sam. But since I came in to the knowledge that you are no different to Skerrit The respect I had for you man is lost!

    The problem is people are not interested in flying on the crap like what you have, therefore your resources a limited; so where is it going to come from to pay landing, and takeoff fees, and the space you occupy on the Airport!

    An idiot and people who do not know will believe your lie, but I know how it works!

    • If you are broke, all you have to do is sell more diplomatic passports; or better yet some of the millions Skerrit gave you say to build hotel use it and pay your debt.

      Boy, time will tell; plenty of you will spend a long time in Jail, the only way that will not happen is if Skerrit can buy every election from here on, but even it is at the time of his demise some honest person will become prime minister, and people like you will be investigated!

      We will know who owns what and where the money came from to buy all of these things.

      There are too many; from rags to riches in Dominica.

  19. March 16, 2017

    It is a sad day for Dominica, why is everything going down hill ? all this is happening on Skerro”s watch, one cannot help but to blame the commander in chief . he was elected to lead .

  20. Malatete
    March 16, 2017

    Another one bites the dust and that is very disappointing. Anyone, who thinks it is easy to run a regional airline efficiently and profitably in the Caribbean should think again. I suppose that right now Sam Raphael can not afford to divert any money from his new Jungle Bay project in order to keep the airline afloat, so why risk both? I understand his decision.

  21. Ivan Bully
    March 16, 2017

    That’s bad news . I hope that things will turn out right with the deal . I loved to see them operate at the Canefield Airport. :)

  22. Ivan Bully
    March 16, 2017

    That’s bad news . I hope that things will turn out right with the deal . I loved to see them operate at the Canefield Airport.

  23. March 16, 2017

    That’s disappointing news, as we need more regional connections, not fewer. I hope that Sam can make the right deal with a new management group to keep things flying.

    • FED
      March 16, 2017

      It’s indeed disappointing news but Sam needs to tell the traveling public the truth.Word coming from the USVI is that poor maintainance of the planes and no flight crew are the main reasons for the suspension of Hummingbird Air flights……smh

    • March 17, 2017

      Agree with you! We need normal local connection even more than big airport

  24. zandoli
    March 16, 2017

    Sam, you are either blind or very courageous. Very few airlines survive for a long time intact. If you look at the history of airlines around the world, and I am talking about large airlines with huge economies of scale, most have declared bankruptcy at some time or the other. A few of them have declared bankruptcy multiple times.

    For state owned airlines, they only remain in business because their respective governments keep bailing them out.

    I did not want to be a naysayer, but I saw this day coming from the time you went into the airline business. This business is not for the faint of heart and I would never invest a penny of my money in that line of business. This is just a sinkhole into which you pour money.

    • anonymous2
      March 17, 2017

      I vote for courageous because he took a big risk to bring tourists onto the island and as well provided a service for other travelers to Dominica to use. No one else had succeeded in doing this before and it took a while to get it off the ground. However, there are always major obstacles when it comes to DA, one of them being the weather and possible catastrophic occurrences. He will probably see the necessity of doing this again once he rebuilds Jungle Bay.

  25. FORKIT
    March 16, 2017

    LOL… we should set up a pweepwee service in dominica… nothing working except for corruption and obeah

  26. TRUEMAN
    March 16, 2017

    ****************THAT”S UNFORTUNATE!!**************

    Let’s hope that some type of positive solution will be reached!!

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