The Dominica government is to construct an international airport mere weeks after Tourism Minister Ian Douglas said that the island could not afford such a facility, according to the Caribbean Media Corporation news agency website.Economic Development, Julius Timothy, said that the Roosevelt Skerrit administration was holding talks with investors in Dubai on the project.
Last month, Douglas said that the government favours instead the development of a night landing at the Melville Airport, because it did not have the funds to construct an international airport.
But Timothy said that the island’s growth is being stifled without an international airport.
“I think unless we have an international airport we are going nowhere, I think unless we have an air strip that can accommodate direct flights from Europe and the US we are going nowhere,” Timothy said.
He urged critics to examine the economic benefits to the island when deciding on the merits or demerits of an international airport.
“We have to look at scale, we must be able to have an aircraft bring 200 people here and bring them back unless that happens we are going nowhere in terms of economies of scale,” Timothy said, noting that talks were being held with investors in Dubai with the hope of getting them to construct the facility free of charge to the Dominican taxpayers.
“We have been in contact and negotiations with some people from Dubai and they intend to come and build an airport for us. I am working with them and I would like that sometime early next year that we begin to see something tangible,” Timothy said.
He added that the negotiation was born of a trip made by a government delegation earlier this year.
“It is coming out of the trip the Prime Minister and I made to Kuwait and Dubai. The talks are continuing and it is not meant to cost the Dominican treasury a dollar. The intention is that they build it and they run it for 25 or 30 years,” he said.