Antigua and Barbuda and Germany have signed an Air Services Agreement (ASA) which paves the way to boosting increased travel between the European nation and twin-island state.
Aviation minister, Sir Robin Yearwood, who signed the agreement on behalf of the government, said it will “open the gates” for German airlines such as Condor and Lufthansa to provide airlift into Antigua and Barbuda.
“This is one way to attract German tourism as well as other businesses to our country given our prime minister’s stated goal of attracting more investments to Antigua and Barbuda.
“We previously had direct flights to Germany, but we never had a formal ASA. This now changes all that,” Sir Robin explained.
The aviation minister noted that Germany is one of the world’s strongest and most resilient economies. With this in mind, he expressed the hope that the agreement will expand Antigua and Barbuda’s opportunities in tourism and trade.
“This new agreement reflects all the modern policies and measures protecting international civil aviation safety and security as well as providing a liberalised commercial framework for designated airlines of both countries to operate within.
“I am optimistic that the agreement will further advance Antigua and Barbuda’s role as a centre for aviation in the Eastern Caribbean,” he said.
Aviation consultant, Ambassador Brian Challenger, explained whilst German carriers previously operated into Antigua and Barbuda without an ASA, airlines today prefer to operate under these agreements.
“The airlines prefer when you have an ASA as it gives them certainty as it lists the obligations that bind both sides.
“Most importantly however, it opens the market for what we call Fifth Freedom. This allows the airlines to operate not just directly, but it gives them the right to make stops in other countries before proceeding to Antigua and Barbuda,” he explained.
Challenger added that this right would also allow Antigua and Barbuda designated airlines to operate in Germany.
German Ambassador to the Eastern Caribbean based in Port of Spain, Ute Konig, confirmed that the ASA executed with Antigua and Barbuda is the first Germany has signed with a Caribbean state.
She noted, however, that negotiations with other countries in the region are ongoing.
While the details of the ASA had been settled for some time, Konig noted that the pandemic delayed the formal signing of the agreement.
The ambassador also echoed Sir Robin’s hope that the agreement will lead to increased travel between Germany and Antigua and Barbuda.