by Makeda Mikael
EXPLORATORY CHARTER FROM NIGERIA TO ANTIGUA ‘BIZARRE’?
The aircraft type which was used for the Nigerian-Antiguan charter would normally fetch in the region of US$15,000. per hour, and considering that aircraft charters begin at wheels up at base to wheels down at base, we have a rough estimate of costs.
Based on rough calculations the total of 54 hours is based on Madrid-Lagos 5.5; Lagos – Antigua 12; Antigua-Madrid(?) 9.5; Madrid-Antigua 9.5; Antigua-Lagos 12; Lagos-Madrid 5.5.
The estimated cost of the wet lease could be in the region of US $810,000 and could include Ground Handling, meals and everything Airport to Airport. Then with the reported 150 bums on seats round trip cost could be reduced to US $5,400 per person cost at the lowest level of all economy class.
Clearly this did not happen, and as a consequence conspiracy theories of what was in the belly of the aircraft have begun to take flight also, getting more complicated as only the cargo boarding under heavy security in Lagos was photographed. It is also known that only baggage was offloaded in Antigua.
Of course this has carried the conspiratorial cargo seen loading in Lagos to a third destination, and could actually be legal freight picked up for delivery either in Madrid or another European country.
The tourists were clearly not the quality which could enhance our current tourism market, as most seemed to be either students or other young persons without disposable income.
If we are testing the water, it would have been much better to have sought business persons coming to explore possibilities, and spend based on their interest, and housed according to their pocket.
The real rich Nigerians require first and second world boutique shops, and upmarket restaurant clubs, as dropping big money is a major part of the affluent African habit on vacation.
If there is a next time charter or if the scheduled service is planned for success, the aircraft and its African passengers deserve much more, and our people on this side must be involved. This can only happen if the airline operators are more transparent, which is a requirement of aviation and a good business practice, and receive the organizational help expected from the host’s agencies.
The absence of any group connections between the people is also a major missing part of the Caribbean African experience for the peoples of both Nigeria and Antigua.
Those whose first trip off the continent of Africa across the mid-Atlantic to Antigua, should be taking home memories of people met and places shared. Meet the people programs should have been set in place before the aircraft landed, and maybe even a pouring of libation as a remembrance to our joint ancestors!