ROSEAU, Dominica, CMC ? The Dominica government says it may consider providing subsidies to foreign airlines and has also established a team of technical professionals to help formulate strategies for improving air access to the island.
Tourism Minister said that the Roosevelt Skerrit government is ?in discussion with no less that about five or six different serious initiatives from airlines to ferries? and there was also the possibility of providing subsidies to airlines to improve services to the island.
?Guarantees mean actually paying the airlines for empty seats because almost every offer that we receive has a guarantee clause.
?I am beginning to become convinced that the only way to get those airlines into Dominica is to give them some sort of subsidies and that is something that the ministry of finance is looking into,? he added.
He said that the technical team ?is currently examining various options for increasing air lift with the hope of providing a home grown solution?.
Last week, Douglas said that air access into Dominica is the single biggest factor affecting the growth of the tourism sector and the island?s economy.
?Dominica?s development is directly tied to the issue of access into Dominica and this issue occupies our mind and our time every moment,? Douglas told members of the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association (DHTA).
During the recent budget debate here, a senior government minister had expressed disappointment with the service provided by the regional airline, LIAT.
Ports Minister Charles Savarin told Parliament that the Antigua-based airline was using its monopoly in the region as a cover for its inefficiencies.
?LIAT knows that we in Dominica have tremendous concerns with LIAT. We do not feel that we are properly served by LIAT. We do not feel that if we want to go to St. Lucia we have to go Antigua first and wait in Antigua for several hours before we can get a flight going south,? Savarin said, adding that international visitors who wanted to visit Dominica were often frustrated by the situation.
He said there was also the possibility of a ?new air operation perhaps operating out of Dominica with the capacity to take us to Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
He did not name the airline, but added that efforts were ongoing to build an international airport for Dominica.