ANTIGUA AND Barbuda made history as it welcomed its first-ever commercial flight from Africa to the Caribbean.
Antigua Airways’ inaugural flight, which is operated by Portuguese charter company EuroAtlantic Airways, landed on the tropical island at 9:30am (1:30pm GMT) yesterday.
The Prime Minister of A&B, Gaston Browne, boasted just hours earlier that critics said that flight “could not be done”.
“Once again, they were proven wrong. Antigua Airways lands tomorrow!” he wrote on Facebook.
The historic flight departed Lagos, Nigeria on Monday (1st November) at 4:20 am and made the 12-hour journey with 100 passengers on board.
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 were just some of the passengers a part of the landmark moment.
The flight’s landing was met with a water cannon salute as it arrived in the capital St. Johns where top Nigerian dignitaries were greeted by the island’s government officials, including Tourism Minister Charles Fernandez, Foreign Affairs Minister Chet Greene, Ambassador Johan Hesse, and CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Colin James.
Minister Fernandez and Minister Greene both called for creating deeper links with Nigeria and the continent, because of their shared history in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
They said that “although our ancestors were once forced to travel to these waters, many will now get the chance to do so freely while rebuilding both nations’ economies that were impaired by the Covid-19 pandemic”.
The new airline is reported to be a major step forward in strengthening links with Africa with the company setting out plans to be the first to launch scheduled international flights between Accra, Ghana and Toronto, Canada. The return flight from Antigua is expected to depart at 7:50 pm on November 7 and arrive in Lagos at 5 am the next day.