A new airline called Antigua Airways, linking the twin island nation directly to West Africa, is expected to begin flights in mid-October.
A formal agreement was signed between the government of Antigua and Barbuda and Nigerian publishing and printing firm Marvelous Mike Press Limited at the office of the Prime Minister on Wednesday.
The news was first revealed in Cabinet notes last month which reported that the carrier would be financed by wealthy Africans wishing to open a new route between the African continent and the Eastern Caribbean.
Tourism Minister Charles Max Fernandez witnessed this week’s official signing and said the third week in October is the tentative date for the first flight.
He said there may be about three flights per week.
Fernandez said this is not only beneficial to Antigua and Barbuda but the wider Caribbean.
“Initially the idea is that they will have passengers and do their bookings. So if someone is coming from Nigeria, apart from just spending a week or two in Antigua, they will be able to spend a few days in Antigua, a few days in Dominica, come back to Antigua, catch a flight and go out or spend a couple days in one of the other islands,” he shared.
The July 21 Cabinet notes had also alluded to a possible collaboration with regional airline LIAT, which is set to be restructured.
Minister Fernandez also spoke of the possible benefits if the entities did indeed join forces.
“Nigeria alone is 200 million people so that population will be a new source market for Antigua,” he told Observer.
“In addition to that they’ve already spoken to LIAT so linkage between LIAT and the new airline will be very, very important…it also opens the door for investment,” he said, adding “there are a lot of wealthy people in Nigeria”.
The Nigerian investors will finance the operations of Antigua Airways while the government of Antigua and Barbuda will receive 20 percent of the profits.