Aviation Authority had warned against Antigua Airways’ involvement with charter flights; PM says venture now ‘defunct’

With a lawsuit against the principals of Antigua Airways set to be heard in a Nigerian High Court today, March 27, more information has been unearthed about the failed venture in which the Gaston Browne Administration has invested. 

REAL News has learned that the principals of Antigua Airways reportedly wrote to the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA), requesting technical assessment of an application on behalf of EuroAtlantic Airways, which was seeking a permit to operate in and out of Antigua and Barbuda.

This correspondence reportedly was penned to the ECCAA on November 4, 2022.

In a letter dated November 22, 2022, and addressed to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Utilities, Civil Aviation, Transportation and Energy, the agency pointed out that parts of the application form – the Fares, Freight and Other Charges in Item 14 – had been left blank.

Additionally, 15 Annexures had not been submitted, and the application form had not been signed by a representative of EuroAtlantic Airways – but by Antigua Airways, instead.  

In its response, signed by the director of flight safety, the ECCAA had indicated that the documents requested in the application form must form part of the application and accompany it.

Reportedly attached to the request had been two letters that bore the Antigua Airways logo, and these were signed by the chairman of Antigua Airways Ltd.  A source says this correspondence contained certain information about EuroAtlantic’s plans to operate a series of flights into Antigua and Barbuda.

However, the ECCAA was concerned about the application and the procedure since Antigua Airways was in the infancy stage of its Air Operators Certificate process.  Therefore, it should not have been involved in, or been a part of, any business of this type.

By attaching these letters to an application for a permit by EuroAtlantic, Antigua Airways appeared to be involved in the EuroAtlantic operation, the ECCAA wrote, and it warned the Permanent Secretary that this should not be allowed.

On Saturday, March 25, Prime Minister Browne described Antigua Airways as defunct and claimed the lawsuit in the Nigerian court has nothing to do with this country.  

However, several lawyers tell REAL News that Browne’s statement is disingenuous.  

They note that 10 Citizenship by Investment passports were issued to Antigua Airways as part of this country’s 20 percent stake in the venture – and that three of these documents are part of the lawsuit.  

If the airline is defunct, they say, then the Browne Administration should be concerned about these passports – specifically to whom they were issued – since there can be no legitimate “investors” in an inoperative business.  

Other observers tell REAL News that the prime minister’s statement proves “the reason for Antigua Airways landing here has been accomplished;” hence, there is no reason for him to continue the pretense.

Meanwhile, the Administration, once again, has changed the label attached to the West Africans stranded here, with PM Browne now describing them as “opportunistic migrants.”