Antigua and Barbuda is planning a new airline, Antigua Airways, to operate direct flights from West Africa by the end of this year.
The airline will be financed by an unidentified group of wealthy African investors who wish to create opportunities between Africa and the Eastern Caribbean. A commercial agreement will be sought with cash-strapped LIAT which is in administration to feed connections to destinations north and south of Antigua and Barbuda.
The government has already signed a memorandum agreement with the Nigerian investors, Prime Minster Gaston Browne revealed during his weekly radio show on Point FM99.1 radio.
Browne is confident the investors have the means to establish the airline. “They have indicated that within a matter of a few months, maybe later this year, they should be able to establish the airline. I know they have the resources. There is no doubt about it,” he said.
“It’s a matter of time before we establish air links between the Caribbean and Africa. It will happen. The demand will continue to grow. I have no doubt it will happen.”
The news was met with scepticism by the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP), with spokesman Damani Tabor calling it a “pie-in-the-sky” promise. He pointed to failed promises of direct flights from Nigeria by Air Peace and promised investments in an African safari-themed hotel.
He also pointed to abandoned plans for Barbuda Airways (Barbuda) and other proposed projects that failed to materialise.