The construction of an International Airport here is expected to have significant economic impact in the short, medium and long term.
The Hon Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit made the point in his keynote address at the DAIC’s 2022 AGM “Chew On It Luncheon” held last week under the theme ” Leveraging Opportunities for Dominica’s Socio Economic Prosperity , The International Airport and Other Advancement Initiatives.”
The international airport is expected to be completed and commissioned by the end of 2026, with a runway length of two thousand, eight hundred and fifty meters (2,850m) making it possible to handle wide body aircrafts on direct routes to North America, Europe and key cities in Asia.
“We are already seeing a substantial injection of capital in the villages of Wesley and Woodford Hill where the airport will be located. At the end of the process, in the next few months, over forty million dollars would have been spent to acquire over five hundred acres of land and to compensate over two hundred and sixty property owners under the project. All relocations are contained within the Wesley area and villagers have benefitted from highly desirable relocation sites with fertile lands for agriculture and improved views in all directions for housing. Agricultural squatters are being regularized in relocated areas which will give them greater security and encourage expansion of their farms thereby facilitating higher production yields,” PM Skerrit stated.
Steps have already been taken for the relocation of Wesley residents to the Jo Burton housing site. The Prime Minister explained that this housing initiative and the subsequent construction of the international airport will result in an increase in cash flow in the area.
“The majority of the residential property owners in the impacted area are being relocated to the Jo Burton residential development. This new development has created a significant uptake in the local construction industry by creating demand for skilled and unskilled labor equipment and materials. This growth is expected to continue as works on the airport site begins later in 2022. The site clearing, mobilization, earth works and construction of the airport are expected to be done over the next three plus years to transform the area. During this phase, several local contractors and service providers will be engaged, translating into hard cash circulating in the local economy. In addition to the construction works directly related to the airport, the project also includes aggressive route development activities to ensure that airlines operating in target source markets are engaged immediately to commence flights into Dominica upon completion of the airport. In other words we have already started discussions with major airlines around the world with regards to our international airport,” PM Skerrit noted.
These efforts are all geared at increasing the foot print of the tourism sector in the country.
“Direct flights by American Airlines which commenced in December of last year have provided a good case study of what is possible and how the economy stands to benefit from more flights into our country. An international airport will significantly increase Dominica’s ability to receive direct flights from target markets in North America and Europe. This new capability will compliment the investments already made to increase the quality and quantity of our hotel plants in Dominica. We will see a corresponding spike in the number of visitor arrivals on the island, expanding the industry contribution to the local economy,” PM Skerrit added.