When Antigua and Barbuda celebrates its 41st anniversary of independence next Tuesday, another historic event is expected to share the day – the inaugural flight of Antigua Airways.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne confirmed that based on the latest information from the airline’s management team, the flight should land at the V. C. Bird International Airport on 1st November.
“The information that we have had to date is that they are still on target to make their inaugural flight on November 1st at 8:30am arriving perhaps during the period of the independence celebrations,” Browne said while speaking in Parliament on Monday.
Informed sources have confirmed that the first flight will carry over 150 passengers who will depart Lagos, Nigeria, on 31st October.
The passengers onboard will include Antigua Airways’ chairman, Marvelous Mike, Nigerian government, and other officials.
While some of the arriving passengers will remain in Antigua and Barbuda, many others will use the direct flight to the Caribbean as the first stop on their way to other destinations.
In recent times, there has been a great demand for more efficient air travel between the African continent and the Caribbean.
“It will not be all Nigerians travelling to the Caribbean via Antigua as we have people from Ghana and other West African nations who have a strong interest in establishing business, cultural and other links with the diaspora in the Caribbean,” the source stated.
The flight will be operated using a Boeing 767 300ER aircraft and is being operated as a charter until the company finalises processing its licence to operate commercial flights.
In August, an agreement was signed with the government and an African investment group which would allow the airline to be based in Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua Airways is a joint private-public partnership between Nigerian online travel agency Wakanow, African aviation services provider Aerostatus, and Nigerian printing and publishing firm Marvelous Mike Press Limited.
Under the agreement, the Nigerian investors will finance the operations of Antigua Airways while the government of Antigua and Barbuda will receive 20 percent of the profits.
News of the airline’s coming was first revealed in Cabinet notes in July which said Antigua Airways would be financed by wealthy Africans who wished to open a new route between the African continent and the Eastern Caribbean.
The arrival of Antigua Airways next Tuesday will put to bed speculation that the airline would fail to materialise.
Meanwhile, the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority has begun preparing a grand welcome for the new airline.
Tourism Minister Charles “Max” Fernandez will head the delegation who will greet the airline and its passengers at the country’s lone international airport.