Bizarre: Antigua Airways, A New Nigerian-Owned Airline

Bizarre: Antigua Airways, A New Nigerian-Owned Airline

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A Nigerian printing company is starting a new airline that will connect the Caribbean and Africa. I know what you’re probably thinking — “great, you’re writing about another imaginary airline.” Well, the inaugural flight is currently airborne…

The basics of Antigua Airways

Antigua Airways is a new airline based in Antigua and Barbuda, which is marketing itself as the “Pride of the Caribbean.” The airline hopes to offer service from St. John’s (ANU) to the following destinations with three weekly frequencies:

  • Accra, Ghana (ACC)
  • Lagos, Nigeria (LOS)
  • Toronto, Canada (YYZ)

The primary investor in the airline is Marvelous Mike Press Ltd., which seems to be a Nigerian printing and publishing firm. The company has no previous experience in the airline industry, and owns 80% of the airline. The other 20% stake is owned by the government of Antigua and Barbuda, using funds from the state’s Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP).

The government of Antigua and Barbuda is touting this as an important link to West Africa, with the potential for significant economic benefit and investment.

Ironically LIAT is the existing regional airline of Antigua and Barbuda, and the airline operates a fleet of a few turboprops. That airline has been on the verge of liquidation for quite some time.

Antigua Airways operates inaugural flight

The inaugural Antigua Airways flight is currently underway — the flight departed from Lagos early this morning, and is due to arrive in St. John’s around the middle of the day. You can track the flight here.

Antigua Airways’ inaugural flight

Antigua Airways isn’t actually operating its own planes, as of now. Rather the airline is starting operations with a leased EuroAtlantic Airways Boeing 767-300ER, featuring 267 seats, including 16 business class seats and 251 economy class seats. This is a wet leased jet from the Portuguese charter airline, meaning the crew and plane are all from EuroAtlantic.

It would appear that Antigua Airways has sold this as a one-week tour package, with a departure from Lagos on October 31 (it was delayed by a day… oops?), and a return on November 6. It’s not yet clear what service the airline will operate beyond that.

Antigua Airways’ tour package

Antigua Airways seems to be selling tickets online the same way you might buy an edible flower arrangement through a mom-and-pop store. So, how much is the company charging?

  • A “Flight Ticket” costs ~$3,421
  • An “Economy Class Package,” including roundtrip economy class travel, accommodation, and a visa, costs ~$4,333
  • A “Business Class Package,” including roundtrip business class travel, accommodation, and a visa, costs ~$9,122
Antigua Airways pricing
Antigua Airways pricing
Antigua Airways pricing

Suffice it to say I’m confused:

  • A roundtrip economy ticket costs over $3K?! The package prices aren’t exactly reasonable either, with business class costing nearly $5K extra roundtrip
  • You can go through the process of buying this, even though the only published flight schedule has already departed
  • It’s not even clarified what kind of accommodation you’re getting, which seems like something that should be clarified

This is very, very strange

This new airline concept has received a lot of criticism in local press in Antigua and Barbuda, since people are curious how government funds are being spent. So it’s good to know that I’m not alone in finding this all to be a mystery.

A Nigerian printing company is partnering with the government of Antigua and Barbuda to launch an airline, and the first flight has already taken off. Flights were only marketed a few weeks before launching, and were ridiculously expensive.

I don’t know what exactly is going on here, but this doesn’t strike me as your traditional airline startup. Hopefully EuroAtlantic Airways got payment in advance…

Bottom line

Antigua Airways is an airline startup that’s a joint venture between a Nigerian company and the government of Antigua and Barbuda. The airline plans to fly from St. John’s to Accra, Lagos, and Toronto, and amazingly enough, the inaugural flight is already in the air.

This is no doubt a strange concept, and I’m curious to see how this evolves.

What do you make of Antigua Airways?

Conversations (33)
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  1. Theo Guest

    We appreciate their efforts and thank them for the start you can get to serious business unless you start it, its, still a verging airline let see wat different its to make

  2. HereB4u Guest

    Some of the poor passengers didn't get back on the return flight and having checked out of their cheap accomodations are now wandering around.

  3. Julet Guest

    So happy to see this post, Juliet from Nigeria

  4. Patricia Guest

    At best this is a cynical review and at worst downright nasty!
    As a descendant of Antiguan parentage and the Atlantic slave trade I think this initiative is brilliant. It connects us to our true motherland and should be applauded. This is the big picture as far as I am concerned. So, if somewhat an unorthodox and shaky a start, it is a start and I pray for its success. It’s no surprise that...

    At best this is a cynical review and at worst downright nasty!
    As a descendant of Antiguan parentage and the Atlantic slave trade I think this initiative is brilliant. It connects us to our true motherland and should be applauded. This is the big picture as far as I am concerned. So, if somewhat an unorthodox and shaky a start, it is a start and I pray for its success. It’s no surprise that it is being criticised however - any attempt for us to progress is often shot down in flames. I wish the airline every success!

    1. jacqueline Guest

      agree 100%

      its about time we reconnected with our brothers and sisters on the motherland

  5. Douglas Ashby Guest

    Heard some students were given free seats to fill the plane. No accommodation plans when they arrive in Antigua. Not an auspicious start.

  6. Yusuf Guest

    Glad to see racism alive and well in this write up, and the comments. Not everything out of Nigeria is fraudulent. Oh great white masters!

    1. Patricia Guest

      Yusuf I agree with you 100%
      I am saddened by the article and even more by the comments. The big picture is an attempt has been made to re establish our connection to our ancestors. It probably would never have been done perfectly but it can be built on - for me this is a fantastic venture. It’s not all about money

  7. Will Guest

    Ben please explain the Exchange Rate issue at hand here. Same as in Lebanon currently.

  8. iamhere Guest

    This is very much similar to what I said for comments the other day. Many of these airlines that do not have many flights or partnerships, etc charge a lot of money and charge more than proper airlines so for most people it would not be worth doing. Then as others commented you need to consider people's other intentions or reasons for doing it.

  9. Alpha Golf Member

    Is the plane painted up that way? Would be an awesome spot (probably one time only)

    1. Sean M. Diamond

      It is in EuroAtlantic livery with a sticker saying Antigua Airways. Nothing exciting unfortunately.

  10. GAH Guest

    Are the fares quoted in US dollar or Eastern Caribbean dollar (the local currency in ATG)? If in XCD, they would be equivalent to USD 1,266, USD 1,603, and USD 3,375.

  11. red_robbo Guest

    Out of curiosity, anyone know what the passenger load was?

  12. David Guest

    And regarding service to YYZ, do they really think the Canadian authorities would license a carrier not substantially owned and effectively controlled by homeland (Antigua & Barbuda) nationals?

    1. Sean M. Diamond

      The investors are basically acquiring Antiguan citizenship through their investment in the airline.

  13. Maryland Guest

    Ah yes! My Nigerian prince promised to do just this once he receives my investment money. ;)

  14. SamB Gold

    Well at least the plane and crew are from a legit carrier...

  15. Stuart Guest

    You should crowd fund the price of a trip for review. The entertainment factor alone would be worth $25 per reader.

  16. Icarus Guest

    Sounds genuine. Lol. A printing company ( cough cough). Printing what ? Money ?

    The plan a fleet of 787 and 777 transporting customers to Los Angeles, New York, Miami, London, Paris, Rome, Tokyo and Singapore via Lagos. West Africa’s equivalent of changi airport haha More likely changi Prison

  17. Rkaradi Guest

    The humor of this is not lost on me. A Nigerian printing company backing an airline ….‍♂️

  18. Mitch Guest

    Isn’t there a Dominican airline also starting service to connect North America & West Africa?

  19. Jürgen Guest

    I was once in Nigeria , in Lagos specifically and Nigeria is the only country so far which I will never ever set my foot in. Corruption is beyond imagination and I never felt more unsafe than in Lagos. This business plan offering flights between Lagos and the Caribbean sounds more than suspicious.

  20. Sean M. Diamond

    The "official" rate for NGN-USD is around 450 right now, but the actual "market" rate is closer to 800. So the prices you cited with a Naira conversation are actually around half that.

    I'd be curious to see how many of these passengers actually show up for their return flight, or will they follow in the footsteps of their brethren that traveled on charter flights from West Africa to Barbados (2008) and Jamaica (2020), where...

    The "official" rate for NGN-USD is around 450 right now, but the actual "market" rate is closer to 800. So the prices you cited with a Naira conversation are actually around half that.

    I'd be curious to see how many of these passengers actually show up for their return flight, or will they follow in the footsteps of their brethren that traveled on charter flights from West Africa to Barbados (2008) and Jamaica (2020), where most either faded into their host society or were subsequently apprehended as far afield as Mexico, Cuba and Brazil.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      Scheduled package illegal immigration tours + government handout grift makes a lot more sense than whatever else you might think this “airline” is selling!

    2. BBK Diamond

      Exactly my thoughts.. This is has more to do with the US southern border than with anything else.

  21. BC Guest

    Nigerian Naira has a black market exchange rate (think dolar blue in Argentina) where the street exchange rate is about 800/$1, so those prices quoted would effectively be cut in half based on the official rate of 435/$1

    All that said, those prices are still eyepopping and I can't comprehend how much actual demand there is. But who knows.

    1. Hadriano Guest

      I'm in Lagos right now and converted 200 usd at a rate of 785/dollar. There's places that might do 800, but I went to a trusted location instead.

  22. Nikojas Guest

    Operate one flight, take the cash from the Antigua govt and then disappear!? I'm sure that won't happen though!

    1. Brian Cartright Guest

      As an Antiguan, I can tell you this did happen. I can also tell you this plane was most likely full of election materials. You can't book any tickets, and there are no local numbers. Only around 20 people were on that plane, and it was funded by our citizens by investment program (they got passports).

      It's all 3rd world country election gimmicks guys.

  23. Brandon Biden Guest

    Ben,
    I wish I were in that Pitch Meeting to the two Gov'ts & Carrier, Mike Printing must be the greatest saleperson in World, carrier the most desparate.
    Oy Vey

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Sean M. Diamond

The "official" rate for NGN-USD is around 450 right now, but the actual "market" rate is closer to 800. So the prices you cited with a Naira conversation are actually around half that. I'd be curious to see how many of these passengers actually show up for their return flight, or will they follow in the footsteps of their brethren that traveled on charter flights from West Africa to Barbados (2008) and Jamaica (2020), where most either faded into their host society or were subsequently apprehended as far afield as Mexico, Cuba and Brazil.

6
Brian Cartright Guest

As an Antiguan, I can tell you this did happen. I can also tell you this plane was most likely full of election materials. You can't book any tickets, and there are no local numbers. Only around 20 people were on that plane, and it was funded by our citizens by investment program (they got passports). It's all 3rd world country election gimmicks guys.

5
Never In Doubt Guest

Scheduled package illegal immigration tours + government handout grift makes a lot more sense than whatever else you might think this “airline” is selling!

4
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