Antigua Airways’ inaugural launch from West Africa happened last week, despite doubts that it would and without the main investor, a Nigerian businessman, being on the flight.
While an official timeline has not been given for when Antigua Airways will launch commercial flights, there are commitments from the parties involved that weekly operations will begin soon. The airline’s first charter flight was met with a water cannon salute on arrival at the VC Bird International Airport on Independence Day, November 1.
Over 100 passengers were on board, including CEO of Euro Atlantic Airways, Eugenio Fernandes, whose company partners the enterprise, and Emmanuel Samson, Founding President of the Nigeria Antigua and Barbuda Chamber of Commerce. There are long-term plans for the route from Lagos to Antigua and Barbuda to be followed by an Antigua to Canada service, but, according to Fernandes, “there is still a lot of work left to be done”.
Antigua Airways is financed by the Antigua and Barbuda government and Nigerian investors, and marks its first direct air connection to West Africa. It plans to operate a Boeing 767-300ER with a 16-business and 251-economy seating arrangement.
Fernandes said he is confident that all the parties involved will cooperate and commercial flights will begin promptly. Marvelous Mike, the CEO and main investor in Antigua Airways, was not on the flight. While local government officials did not give a reason for his absence, they announced that he would be arriving in Antigua and Barbuda later that week. His children, Mercy and Marvellous Akinola, were however among the VIP personnel who arrived.
While many questions still remain unanswered and members of the public remain sceptical over the prosperity of the airline, Foreign Affairs Minister EP Chet Greene said it signified the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership with Africa.
Opposition politicians are among those who have questioned the status of the company financing its operations, Abuja-based printing firm Marvelous Mike Press Ltd.
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