More uncertainty and doubt seem to be emerging with regard to Antigua Airways, which is expected to make its inaugural flight here next week.
The controversial airline has been linked to promotions by an entity called the Nigeria-Antigua & Barbuda Chamber of Commerce Ltd./GTE.
However, a voice note and screen shots – reportedly emerging out of Nigeria – show the status of this company, registered on April 6, 2018, as “inactive,” according to the Corporate Affairs Commission. And on the audio recording, a man accuses the purported chamber of being a con and a scam.
Weeks ago, Harold Lovell, the Political Leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP), reported that an investigations agency had indicated some interest in the operations of the company. Similar information was also disclosed by the man in the voice message.
Certain allegations are made about the investor – known, up to now, only as “Marvelous Mike” – and a number of Antiguan government officials reportedly are implicated in the deal.
The authenticity of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) – for a tourism partnership between both countries – is also being questioned, with locals asking why the Minister of Tourism, Charles “Max” Fernandez, has not been more forthcoming about the new airline.
Meanwhile, among the supposed chamber’s list of “Owners/Directors/Key management [personnel]” is a prominent officer within the Ministry of Agriculture. And it is alleged that some of the names listed are actually underage children.
Meanwhile, in Parliament on Monday, Opposition Leader Jamale Pringle asked Prime Minister Gaston Browne about the airline, inquiring whether it is still on course to make its inaugural flight next week.
Browne responded that the company is a private entity, but he confirmed that everything is in place for the landing on Independence Day, November 1.
Antigua Airways’ promotional material claims that passengers will enjoy a tour of five days here in Antigua, after visas are granted on arrival. However, no tourism entity – hotels, tour companies, taxi association – has reported bookings, as far as REAL News could determine.
Allegations are that a similar venture was embarked upon last year, and persons were left stranded at the Abuja Airport, since no aircraft showed up.
Several residents have told our Newsroom they are concerned that this flight, if it arrives, could be bringing “undesirable cargo” along with its passengers.