By Theresa Goodwin
Tourism officials will be observing a double celebration today – the launch of a new year-round service by Frontier Airlines and the fact that Antiguan and Barbudan native, First Officer Aron Simon, will be its co-pilot.
The US airline, marketed as a low-cost carrier, will make its inaugural flight to the VC Bird International Airport from its base at Orlando International Airport in Florida and is scheduled to arrive at 3.49pm.
CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority Colin James sees the new service as a positive for the industry which is trying to rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It’s really important for us, it has really opened up the entire south-east part of the United States which is really good news for us and the efforts that we have been putting in, in actually growing the business side out of the United States.
“The start flight will originate in Orlando, and a lot of people do not know this, but Orlando is one of the busiest airports for inbound flights in the US, mainly because Disney is located in Florida,” he explained.
“You have flights from almost every major airport as well as secondary airports coming into Orlando, so it is a great place to reconnect,” James said.
James said Antigua and Barbuda is one of three Caribbean destinations selected as Frontier expands its reach to the region.
The carrier’s International and Domestic Sales Manager, Alfredo Gonzalez, said, “Frontier Airlines is not just your regular airline carrier, it’s actually recognised as one of the greenest airlines in the world because of our position in protecting the environment and also in the awareness and protection of the animals on the endangered species list,” Gonzalez said.
The airline’s love for animals is shown on the insignia on the tail of each plane. For today’s flight the company will be using an Air Bus A320 which has the capacity to seat 186 passengers. Around 100 passengers will be onboard today’s flight.
Gonzales also spoke of the introductory fares to Antigua which will start from as low as US$59.
“Those are fares that will revolutionise the way that people look at a destination and the way they look at air travel; that is what Frontier wants to do. We want to do this for people who want to fly, need to fly and can afford to fly,” the sales manager said.
The flight will be greeted with a water cannon salute followed by a ceremony at the VC Bird International Airport Lounge.
On the inaugural flight will be Minister of Tourism Charles Fernandez, CEO of Frontier Airlines Barry Biffle, US Director of Tourism Dean Fenton, plus other tourism officials and media.