OBSERVER Newsco: Although there has been quite a buzz over the revelation of a new airways from the African continent to Antigua and Barbuda, United Progressive Party (UPP) Chairman D Gisele Isaac said she is taking the news with a pinch of salt. CLICK HERE TO JOIN OUR WHATSAPP GROUP FOR NEWS UPDATES.
The airline, 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.
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.
The Nigerian investors will finance the operations of Antigua Airways while the government of Antigua and Barbuda will receive 20 percent of the profits.
But Isaac who was speaking on Friday on the Observer AM show mentioned that she is taking the latest information with a grain of salt as there is not enough information to make a proper assessment of this company and the new airline.
“I would want to know whether this is an experiment by this new company or whether they have a track record in launching businesses of this type. There are lots of regulations that you have to observe. Lots of safety standards and business standards that you have to meet. Have those things been done? October is two months away. All these things have been done already? Have persons been trained? I don’t know anything about these people and I don’t know what their track record is in launching airlines,” Isaac said.
She mentioned that due to the reputation of ‘Nigerian businessmen’ as well on the international scene, we need to be cautious when going into business with them.
Isaac went on to say that due to the track record of the Gaston Browne administration who make grand announcements about developments without any of these coming to fruition, she will have to “see it to believe it” that this airline can be able to be fully operational in a matter of months.
She mentioned that with the failed airlines like LIAT (1974) Ltd and Allen Stanford’s Caribbean Star, the government knows how much it costs to run an airline and it is for those reasons why she cannot throw her support behind this project.
“How is this thing going to be financed? We don’t know, and I don’t think I can greet something that has so little information about it, and from the article that I read, even the minister of tourism who was there at the signing of the deal doesn’t seem to have that much details about it.
“So, when we see it happening, and when we see it last for enough time to judge it, then I will say, this could be a good thing, but as it stands now, I am going to treat it the same way I treated the hotel that was supposed to b established at Willoughby Bay, again, by some African businessmen,” Isaac added.
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.
The July 21 Cabinet notes had also alluded to a possible collaboration with regional airline LIAT.
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