by Audley Phillip
Antigua And Barbuda Airways – What A Mess!
The much touted Antigua Airways has come and gone, have started and stopped and still no one knows exactly what the agreement was between its Marvelous Mike investor and the government of Antigua and Barbuda.
When on November 1st the first inaugural flight landed at V.C Bird International airport, it was heralded as the start of many such flights between Antigua and Barbuda and the African continent. After 12 hours of flying nonstop, the flight landed at V.C Bird with just about 100 passengers.
Among the passengers were The CEO of Euro Atlantic Airways, Eugenio Fernandez, Founding President of the Nigeria Antigua and Barbuda Chamber of Commerce, Emmanuel Samson, and Managing Director of Antigua Airways, Opeyemi Olorunfemi. Marvelous Mike was not on the flight but his two children made the trip.
The Nigerian dignitaries were greeted by top government officials to include Tourism Minister Max Fernandez, Foreign Affairs Minister Chet Greene, Ambassador Johan Hesse, and CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Colin James.
Other dignitaries included the President of the Nigerian Association in Antigua and Barbuda, Adolf Iwuji, and President of the Ghanaian Association in Antigua and Barbuda Lebrecht Hesse, among others.
The aircraft was greeted with a water cannon salute and brief remarks were shared by both Minister Fernandez and Minister Greene.
Both men pointed out that it was a monumental occasion for Antigua and Barbuda as years of promises to develop a greater trade link with the motherland have taken a major step with this new airline.
Fast forward 3 months later and Antigua Airways is no more and just like that no one is saying anything. We wake up one morning and we hear that the Attorney General would recommend to Cabinet the cessation of any further flights. Then the following vague note from Cabinet – “The Cabinet took a decision to halt temporarily flights emanating from West Africa. The rules governing member countries of ECCAA are very strict and Antigua Airways had not complied fully with them.”
We have to start to put pressure on the Government in order to ensure that accountability takes place in this twin island state. The results of the last elections showed that we can no longer harbour a one sided government that dictates everything without having to account to the people.
The people of Antigua and Barbuda deserve to know the exact terms of the agreement that was entered into between Marvelous Mike and the Government. How many passports, if any, were issued, plus any additional incentives given
This entire ordeal makes us look like a laughing stock. The new Parliament must demand a thorough investigation into this as a matter of urgency.
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