As of this month, the Dominican Republic has been declared the best-connected location in the Caribbean for domestic and international flights.
This comes after the Director of the Dominican Institute of Civil Aviation (IDAC), Hector Porcella, stated that the Dominican government had invested thousands of U.S Dollars to boost the domestic flight market, making affordable flights more frequent for Dominican citizens and American tourists.
There are now 29 airlines operating routes from the U.S and Canada to various locations in the Dominican Republic.
From January to March of 2020, Punta Cana International Airport and Las Americas International Airport were the 2nd and 3rd most popular airports visited in the Caribbean. The most popular airport at this time was Luiz Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
As of January 2022, 1,287,811 passengers passed through Dominican air terminals, with 590,469 of them on inbound flights, and 697,315 on outbound flights, making it the best-connected Caribbean nation for flights this year. January is also thought to be the second-best month in passenger traffic since March 2020, showing the country’s return to normalcy after the lack of tourism during the pandemic.
The new investment has also led to an increase in low-cost air carriers offering new routes from the U.S and Canadian locations to various airports in the Dominican Republic, including Las Americas International Airport in Santo Domingo, and Punta Cana International Airport.
Porcella has stressed the importance of planes in connecting popular tourist locations within the Dominican Republic: “Taking a plane at the La Isabela Airport to travel to Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, Barahona or Montecristi, is faster than any means of land transportation”.
The director of the Airport Department in the Dominican Republic Victor Pichardo, and the general commander of the Air Force of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Munoz Noboa, have been brought in by the government to delegate which routes, airlines and airports would benefit most from the investment given.
The development of the flight industry comes after the continued difficulty of driving in the country. Whilst the roads and highways are well-maintained, the country has some of the highest rates of road accidents in the world – the fatality rate is 21% higher than elsewhere in Latin America and the Caribbean.
As tourist hot spots are located in both coastal areas and cities, it is not always logistically possible to drive between locations, especially if there is only a short amount of time for a vacation. For example, the drive from Santo Domingo to Punta Cana is over 2 hours long and could be delayed by traffic or unreliable weather and road conditions. Whilst the new building of the Ambar highway is set to make drive times shorter, there is still a demand for better domestic connections.
Currently, domestic flights to get from the capital of Santo Domingo to coastal cities, such as Puerto Plata or Punta Cana, are incredibly expensive and only occur a few times a week. Therefore, the government is expected to use the money from the new investments to create more frequent and affordable domestic flights within the country.
Of the 7 international airports in the Dominican Republic (Punta Cana, Las Américas, Gregorio Luperón, La Romana, Ciabo, Samana El Catay and La Isabela), there is a demand for at least 3 or 4 to host more domestic flights, allowing tourists to travel between the different districts in the country.
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