There will soon be passenger flights from Nigeria to Barbados.

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There will soon be passenger flights from Nigeria to Barbados. (2)

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There will soon be passenger flights from Nigeria to Barbados.

BARBADOS | Commercial Passenger flights between Nigeria and Barbados Imminent

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, June 13, 2024 – Plans to operate direct commercial  flights from Nigeria to the Caribbean via Barbados are nearing completion, with the Nigerian component virtually in place and awaiting the Barbados component of the plans.

This is the word from acting chief operating officer of the African Export-Import Bank’s (Afreximbank) CARICOM office in Barbados, Okechukwu Ihejirika,  who said the West African nation’s authorities had cleared the airline for takeoff from Nigeria’s largest city Lagos or the capital, Abuja. 

Acting chief operating officer of the African Export- Import Bank’s (Afreximbank) CARICOM office in Barbados, Okechukwu Ihejirika. (GP)

Acting chief operating officer of the African Export- Import Bank’s (Afreximbank) CARICOM office in Barbados, Okechukwu Ihejirika. (GP)The Afreximbank official said “All the discussions are ongoing, and we are happy to be playing that facilitation role that will eventually see the realisation of this dream very, very soon.” 

Work to approve the flights is now needed on the Barbadian side, Ihejirika told Barbados TODAY while declining to name the carrier.

However, Wiredja Online News understands that Nigeria’s largest airline, Air Peace has been in negotiations with the government of Barbados to introduce twice weekly commercial flights to that Caribbean country.

“It’s a business decision, it’s bilateral discussions that are ongoing and what I’m assured of is the fact that because of the interest as well from the Barbadian authorities to make this happen – they’re also taking it seriously – and with the enthusiasm on the African side on this private sector side as well, who are going to run this dream, I see an announcement, being made very very imminently.

A commercial direct air link between Nigeria and Barbados has been in the making for some time, and promoters of closer Africa-Caribean economic and cultural ties are working assiduously to make the link a reality.

Early last year, the Barbados Government Information Service disclosed that Air Peace was negotiating with Barbados and the Africa Export-Import Bank about twice-weekly direct flights between Bridgetown and Lagos.

The absence of direct travel options between Africa and the Caribbean has been highlighted as a barrier to the strengthening of  connections between the continent and the African diaspora in the Americas.

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne has also been in negotiations with Nigeria’s largest airline, Air Peace which has signaled its intention to invest in the Leeward Islands Air Transport (LIAT) 2020

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne has also been in negotiations with Nigeria’s largest airline, Air Peace which has signaled its intention to invest in the Leeward Islands Air Transport (LIAT) 2020Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne has also been in negotiations with Nigeria’s largest airline, Air Peace which has signaled its intention to invest in the Leeward Islands Air Transport (LIAT) 2020, as part of  Brown’s efforts to revitalize the regional carrier.

Browne, who has been unable to convince shareholder governments of LIAT 1974 Limited to invest in a new entity, approached Nigeria’s largest carrier, Air Peace, which has  entered into a joint initiative with the government of Antigua and Barbuda to bolster investments in LIAT 2020 Ltd. 

This follows a visit to Nigeria on April 28 by Antigua & Barbuda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chet Greene, during which he met his Nigerian counterpart Geoffrey Onyeama and Air Peace Chief Executive Officer Allen Onyema, according to Onyema’s social media posts.

Greene underlined the government’s commitment to the revitalisation of LIAT 2020 as a contributor to social and economic development in the region. He also welcomed Onyema’s interest in investing in LIAT 2020. Onyema noted his commitment to developing a viable and sustainable airline.. 

This strategic move aims to revitalize LIAT 2020 and establish an airline that will not only cater to the demand for inter-island connectivity in the Eastern Caribbean but also make the well needed connection with the African continent.

Air Peace will acquire a majority stake in LIAT 2020, based at V. C. Bird International Airport (ANU), which serves Saint John, the Caribbean nation’s capital city, paving the way for reliable air transport services across the region.

Through a joint initiative with Air Peace, both parties are expected to invest cash and other assets in the revitalization of LIAT 2020. Air Peace’s acquisition of a majority stake will inject much-needed resources and expertise into the airline, positioning it for sustainable growth and enhanced service quality.

While hesitant to estimate a launch date, Ihejirika was optimistic an announcement would be made “very, very imminently”, citing enthusiasm from Barbadian authorities and the private sector.

He said the lack of historical direct travel data between the countries should not hamper the route’s success.

“While there may not be historical data to support new entrance in that field, we believe that yes, tourism is a good driver of this effort but apart from tourism, business also will be another compelling component of it,” Ihejirika said.

Ihejirika highlighted the potential opportunities a new air link could bring for both business and leisure travel between the regions.

“If people find business opportunities they can take advantage of in this region, they will also now see the value in buying tickets to come here,” he said. “So they’re coming now for a dual purpose – one, pleasure and the other one could also be business.”

The Afreximbank official said that while the flight plans were not fully in their control, he was confident of an imminent positive outcome given the commitment shown by all parties.

“If it was 100 per cent in our hands, we would have made it happen tomorrow,” Ihejirika said. “But the issue is that there is a lot of preparatory work that is required, there’s a lot of engagement that is required as well to make that happen.”

According to Airspace Africa, Air Peace is one of Africa’s leading privately owned airlines, and  has demonstrated a keen interest in expanding its presence in the Caribbean. The airline has a  fleet of over 38 aircraft and more than 3,000 employees. 

The Nigerian carrier currently serves markets in Africa, the Middle East, India, China, and Israel and is working towards launching scheduled flights between Barbados and Nigeria.

source: wiredja.com

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