Browne denies shares in Antigua Airways, issue of passports, and CIP status for project; but says West Africa air bridge still on the cards

Prime Minister Gaston Browne is denying that Antigua and Barbuda has shares in the now-defunct Antigua Airways and that the investors ever received Citizenship by Investment (CIP) passports, as was understood earlier.

Months after proudly declaring that this country was part of the venture, Browne now claims that his administration only had “aspirations” of acquiring 20 percent of the airline’s shares – but that those shares were never issued.

He also denies that any CIP passports were granted to the principals of the airline – despite having announced, himself, that “10 CIP files” had been made available as part of the purported “CIP project.”

Browne says, now, that zero passports were issued, as no funds were invested, and no citizenship was granted, since the agreement to have the venture listed as a CIP initiative did not take place.

The prime minister also sought to give an explanation of the Government’s decision to suspend further flights into Antigua and Barbuda by the airline – again hinting that “copycat” flights arriving here had created some confusion.

He says it appears that persons who came on those flights had made their way to the United States border, which is a cause for concern. And he alleges that mounting political pressure leading up to the general elections was also a factor.

Meanwhile, Browne says that Antigua Airways has been undergoing some difficulties and is not trading at this time.

However, having spoken to the company’s principals as recently as a week ago, Browne reports that they are interested in acquiring a few airplanes, and that – sometime in the future – they will pursue the establishment of an air bridge between this country and West Africa.

The prime minister says his administration still aspires to pursue the venture and is speaking to other entities, as well as to African investors.