The borders open! But LIAT Airlines is shutting down?!
That is what seems to be the final date announced for foreigners to be able to enter Dominica.
It means we can finally begin.
After getting through many hoops of Dominican bureaucracy I had, a couple weeks back, managed to make my way into speaking directly with Mr. Bardouille, the CEO of DASPA, the Dominican Air and Sea Ports Authority. He had told me with relative confidence: ''First week of August. We have established a set of guidelines, and we are taking the time to correctly implement our procedures''
Benoit Bardouille, CEO of DASPA
He was the only person I had spoken to, from the Embassies and Consulates, to the Ministry of Health, and Tourism, that had seemed to have any certainty to his words. I had believed him, but certainly hoped that he meant August 1st, not the end of it.
Now, the news has been made official and we should be able to start planning the travel soon. However, there are still no available flights anywhere online even after the prescribed dates. I am sure it is just a matter of the information being too new and the airline, LIAT, yet having to update its routes.
There is still a concern over the airline itself, as talks have been going on between the major shareholders of the company, namely the governments of four Caribbean countries, including Dominica, about dissolving the airline and letting competitors take over the routes, or reincorporating it into a new LIAT 2020 Ltd and starting anew.
LIAT propeller plane
The regional airline being in the control of local governments has always been a way to maintain and assure a quality and regularity of service to the citizens of the various islands, including lightly frequented ones like Dominica, even when the service incurred a loss, which was the case on numerous routes.
This has made the airline often require the countries to reinvest into the deficit on the basis of maintaining the service, there is concern that privately owned foreign entities would not incur those same losses and rather would cut or diminish service. This in turn impacts the local and international travel, hindering the already small local economy.
All this uncertainty over the future of the airline is making me nervous, as it is the only way to get to Dominica without having to transit via boat from a neighboring french island, which may require a quarantine and is not really feasible.
A quick search for the same dates but with countries that have already been open for a few days shows LIAT flights operating, so there is hope!
It still feels good to have a definite date(as definite as government announcements are...) to be working towards. After the constant cycle of two weeks more closure every two weeks, that felt like it would last for ever.
I am eager to get to work, it's hard creating something new and wanting to share it to the world, and want people to see you do it and join into the effort when you keep getting delayed. It's hard telling people to help you do something you still haven't done.