Air Canada, the carrier that has long provided key links between Antigua and Barbuda and its third biggest tourism source market has returned to the island.
Today Saturday, the Air Canada flight arrived at the VC Bird International airport, carrying 106 passengers from Toronto, and the aircraft was given a welcome back water cannon salute. Passengers were also greeted by cultural dancers, music, and small welcome tokens.
Earlier this year, the airline announced it was temporarily suspending flights from January 31 until April 30. But in April, the company revealed a further suspension to the twin island nation and three other Caribbean islands until October 29.
At the time, the move seemed like a blow to the country’s economic mainstay as Antigua and Barbuda battled to recover financially from the Covid pandemic, but the airline maintained that its decision was designed to achieve an orderly reduction in service and minimize customer impact.
Tourism Minister Charles “Max,” Fernandez said his ministry is extremely pleased with the airline’s decision to both resume and increase service to the island.
“We look forward to extending our famous Antigua and Barbuda hospitality to our Canadian visitors. We know many Canadians are more than ready for a vacation and we are equally ready to provide the relaxation and escape that Canadians have been craving” he said.
As noted, the rollout of the new service begins today with a single direct flight weekly from Toronto (YYZ) to St. John’s (ANU).
Service will continue to ramp up to meet the traditional demand of the holiday season, with Air Canada forecasting the eventual operation of five weekly flights at peak traffic.
Travelers from Montreal looking to fly south for the winter can look forward to once-a-week direct flights (YUL to ANU) beginning December 23rd.
The return of Air Canada flights to Antigua & Barbuda comes in the wake of the destination’s latest travel advisory, which has lifted all COVID-19 restrictions for passengers arriving by air, yacht, and ferry.
While a successful strategy of mass vaccinations and proactive public awareness campaigns has kept COVID-19 infection levels low, visitors are still encouraged to wear a mask and practice social distancing in public spaces where crowds are likely to gather.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority Colin James says over the course of the pandemic, Antigua and Barbuda has seen a monumental, joint effort involving both the government and industry stakeholders to make the destination as safe as it can be.
“With that goal now realized and our Canadian friends set to return, we are extremely excited that our guests will once again be able to experience everything our home has to offer,” James said