Spread the love

A push is on to have sea planes operating between Antigua and Barbuda before the end of the year, thereby significantly increasing air transportation between the two islands.
The Florida-based company, Tropic Ocean Airways, which boasts on its website of being the largest amphibious seaplane operator in the world, is behind the initiative.
The government’s Chief of Staff, Lionel “Max” Hurst also disclosed in his Cabinet Notes that the firm will seek permission from the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) to operate the aircraft in this jurisdiction from December 1, 2018. 
“The Minister of Aviation has been charged by Cabinet to complete the negotiations with ECCAA,” he added, noting that all the requirements will then be relayed to the operators, one of whom is due to visit Antigua next week.
A study will also be undertaken to determine the areas from where the seaplanes would take-off and land, on both islands.
The Minister of Information, Melford Nicholas spoke briefly about the planned entry of Tropic Ocean Airways into this market, telling reporters that its operations would be complemented by the service that will eventually be provided by the state-owned Barbuda Airways.
The establishment of an airline for Barbuda has been in the making since 2015, when the Gaston Browne-administration announced its intention to introduce Barbuda Airways as a means of providing consistent and reasonably priced travel between Antigua and its sister isle.
Some residents are skeptical that the carrier will ever get off the ground. Nicholas assures that it will, despite “some issues” with Caribbean Helicopters Limited (CHL), the government’s partner in the venture.
“There are some challenges and difficulties we have in terms of the serviceability of the aircraft involved and getting the necessary license from the civil aviation authority.” he explained.
Operations had commenced in July but was abruptly halted a month later to allow for a probe into whether parts were illegally removed from one plane owned by the government on to another belonging to CHL which had been doing the flights. It is not clear whether that probe was completed.