Douglas–Charles Airport (IATA: DOM, ICAO: TDPD), formerly known as Melville Hall Airport, is an airport located on the northeast coast of Dominica, 2 mi (3.2 km) northwest of Marigot. It is about one hour away from the second largest city Portsmouth. It is one of only two airports in the island nation of Dominica, the other being Canefield Airport located three miles (5 km) northeast of Roseau.
The Melville Hall area was chosen as the site for Dominica’s main airport in 1944, for it was the only place on the island with extensive flat land. It was only after the completion of the Cross-Country Roadway connection from Belles to Marigot, in 1958, that work on the airport began. The facility opened on 22 November 1961, and was first served by Douglas DC-3 Dakotas operated by BWIA.
Three airlines were operating scheduled passenger service with turboprop aircraft into the airport in late 1979 including Leeward Islands Air Transport (LIAT) with Hawker Siddeley HS 748 flights nonstop from Antigua, Fort de France, Pointe a Pitre and St. Lucia as well as direct, no change of plane HS 748 flights from Barbados, Grenada, Port of Spain and St. Vincent; Air Martinique with nonstop Fokker F27 service from Fort de France; and Air Guadeloupe with nonstop de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter service from Pointe a Pitre.
Historical jetliner service
According to the Official Airline Guide (OAG), two airlines were operating scheduled passenger jet service into the Melville Hall Airport in the spring of 1995: Carib Express with nonstop British Aerospace BAe 146-100 jet flights from Barbados, St. Kitts and St. Lucia; and Liberty Airlines with nonstop Boeing 727-200 jet service to St. Kitts and St. Lucia as well as direct, one stop 727 service to Fort Lauderdale. The OAG also lists scheduled passenger service at this same time flown by LIAT into the airport with de Havilland Canada DHC-8 Dash 8 turboprops nonstop from Antigua, Fort de France, Pointe a Pitre, and St. Maarten as well as direct, no change of plane Dash 8 flights from Anguilla, Port of Spain, St. Lucia, San Juan, PR and Tortola.
In 2006 an airport expansion and upgrade program began which entailed the expansion of the terminal building to include a new departure lounge, customs and immigration section, and check-in area. The runway and apron were also extended and new night landing and navigational aids were installed. These enhancements had an extended completion date of mid-2010.
The first-ever night landing was conducted on 9 August 2010 by Winair. Regular night landings at the airport began on 20 September 2010; the first flight, from LIAT, flew from V.C. Bird International Airport in Antigua.
Renaming of airport
Commercial jetliner service
On July 22, 2021, American Airlines announced a new, twice-weekly nonstop jet service between Miami and Dominica, which began on December 8, 2021. The service is operated by its American Eagle affiliate Embraer 175. This marked the first non-stop commercial service between the mainland United States and Dominica. The initial service operated twice weekly until 10 January 2022, when it increased to thrice weekly. As of April 5, 2022, flights now operate once daily. American Eagle is currently the largest airline at the airport. As of August 16, 2022, the government is in reported talks with American Airlines to increase frequencies to the airport with an extra daily service (Weekends, Mondays, and Wednesdays) from Miami.
American Eagle is now the largest air carrier to serve the airport, with a 36% market share.
- Air Century operates chartered services with the CRJ 200 from San Juan and Santo Domingo–La Isabela.
- Conviasa operates chartered flights from Caracas with their Embraer E190 aircraft.
- Fly All Ways operates chartered services with the Fokker 70 to Curaçao and Paramaribo.
- InterCaribbean Airways operates chartered services with the Embraer 145 to various destinations in the Caribbean region.
- Sunrise Airways operates chartered services with the Embraer 145 to Port-au-Prince, and Santo Domingo–La Isabela.
Government discussions with other airlines
As of 2021, the government of Dominica was in talks with various airlines—including Air Canada, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, and United Airlines—for new service options to Canada and the northeastern United States.
Notable airliner visits
On April 4, 2020, an Avianca Airbus A320neo arrived at the airport with medical supplies and equipment from Paramaribo. After offloading the cargo, the aircraft left shortly after for Bogota. The aircraft was the largest airliner to ever land at the airport.
On Monday, April 17, 2023, Conviasa operated chartered flights from Caracas with their Embraer E190 aircraft (YV2911 & YV2912) for the Alba Games in Venezuela. The first time an Embraer E190 aircraft arrived at the airport.
Upcoming new airlines
Based on a recent report as of August 16, 2022, Venezuelan-based charter airline Sasca (in cooperation with Barbados’ Executive Air and Blue Star), will soon begin operating flights in the Eastern Caribbean between Dominica and Barbados, Grenada, St.Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The flights will be operated by Jetstream 31 and Jetstream 32 aircraft.
The Passenger Terminal at the airport houses 10 airline check-in counters, the arrivals and departures area, and 2 Gates. Recently, there was an addition made to the terminal, which added an Executive Lounge that all arriving and departing passengers can utilize. The lounge is full of comforts and services at Douglas Charles Airport of Dominica. Lounge Seating, Complimentary Wi-Fi, Newspaper/ Magazine, Tourism Information and Bookings, Flight Monitors, Cultural Exhibits, Complimentary beverages, Complimentary snacks, Private Rest Rooms, Personalized Meet and Greets, Baggage Assistance, Assisted Immigration and Customs, and Taxi Arrangements. The lounge has many offerings and 3 categories of arrival and departure services. These include:
An In-Lounge Service:
- A La Carte In Lounge services: Reserved Seating/Service area, Conference/Meeting Room, and a Complimentary Local Call.
- Concierge Arrival Services: Personalized Meet & Greet, Baggage Assistance, Taxi Arrangements, and Assisted Immigration & Customs.
- A La Carte Arrival Services: Personalized Meet & Greet, Baggage Assistance, Assisted Immigration & Customs, and Taxi Arrangements.
- Basic: Lounge Security Screening, Boarding Announcements, Airside Access to the Departure Gate.
- Concierge Departure Services: Baggage Assistance, Check-in Assistance, Lounge Security Screening, Boarding Announcements, and Plane Boarding Assistance.
- A La Carte Departure Services: Baggage Assistance, Check-in Assistance, and Plane Boarding Assistance.
- The terminal currently has three ground-level gates.
Airlines and their respective gates are as follows:
- Ground-level (Gate 1) – American Eagle.
- Ground-level (Gate 2) – Not Assigned (No other airlines utilize the Parking Stand on the apron) – (Gate 2 – Airport terminal) – Air Antilles, Caribbean Airlines, InterCaribbean Airways, LIAT, Silver Airways
- All other turboprop airliners are remotely parked at various non-gated areas on the apron.
Runways and taxiways
The airport features one 5,761-foot runway. Runway 09 has a 1,158 foot Displaced Threshold due to the rising terrain to the west of the airport, with an available landing distance of 4,603 feet. It’s only authorized for visual approaches, and landings at night are prohibited. Runway 27 departures are prohibited.
- Runway 09 – Visual Approach – HIRL available
- Runway 27 – RNAV Approach – HIRL available – SALS – Has a (PAPI) Precision approach path indicator System at (angle 3.00°)