Dominica this week begins the improvement of its major airport under a multi-million dollar European Union aid package. A team of foreign consultants responsible for working out a detailed costing for the Melville Hall Airport project was due to arrive here yesterday.
The Communications and Works Minister, Reginald Austrie, said that upgrading the airport is one item on government`s list of projects designed to turn the economy around.
“...Government is conscious of the need for improved air access into Dominica,” he said. “This project will not only improve air access into the country, but I am sure this will lead to an improvement in the economy.”
The project includes extending the runway to accommodate larger aircraft and upgrading it to the point where aircraft, for the first time, will be able to land and take off at night. The terminal building and passenger facilities will also be brought up to international standards.
The airport improvement project is being funded with a grant from the European Union of 12.5 million euro.
Melville Hall Airport is the larger airport and is located on the northeast side of the island. Canefield Airport, the smaller gateway, is located on the southwest side of
Dominica, near the capital city of Roseau. Construction of Melville Hall was completed in 1958. One of its major
drawbacks was the great distance from the capital - 24 miles - and from the hotels. Tourists often have to pass through steep hills, valleys, hairpin turns and winding roads to reach the airport.
While the newer airport is on the edge of the capital, there are concerns about the cross-winds and the short length of the runway at the Canefield Airport.