Nicaragua Airways, in alliance with Italian air carrier Blue Panorama, will celebrate its inaugural flight (Rome-Havana-Managua-Rome) tomorrow, July 11, according to the Sandinista government’s media sites.
The only question is: What, pray tell, is Nicaragua Airways?
The aspiring airline was first mentioned in a private Sandinista “press conference” offered last month by the president’s son, Laureano Ortega, a celebrated opera singer who holds some sort of job as liaison between ProNicaragua and the Nicaraguan Tourism Board (INTUR). Independent media outlets were not invited to the press conference, and Sandinista reporters were perhaps too busy nodding to inquire about the wannabe airline, which apparently will be birthed with some pushing by Blue Panorama.
Efforts to get information from ProNicaragua or INTUR have been equally fruitless. Neither agency answered repeated requests for information about the elusive Nicaragua Airways, or its curious alliance with Blue Panorama. Indeed, representatives at ProNicaragua said they, too, were trying to get information from Laureano Ortega’s office, which is apparently run with the same consideration for access to information as other offices managed by members of his family.
INTUR’s PR firm in the United States said they’ve never heard of Nicaragua Airways, and the alleged company’s presumptive website offers few additional clues.
It’s not the first time Nicaragua has gotten excited about an imaginary airline. During a 2011 tourism trade show in Russia, the Nicaraguan government announced the creation of Air Nicaragua, which promised to start international flight service to Havana, Caracas, and Mexico. A year later, no one seems to know what happened to Air Nicaragua—the government never spoke of it again. Similarly, plans for an ALBA Airline, which had Presidents Daniel Ortega and Hugo Chávez eagerly expectant several years ago, never got off the ground.
Even private airline ventures have had trouble getting cleared for takeoff. In 2011, the government touted the birth of Nica Wings, a Canadian-run seaplane service out of Granada. A year later, the company, which is not offering flights, won’t return emails or phone calls.
While much of Nicaragua’s air-travel plans remain a state mystery, what is known is that Italian carrier Blue Panorama will start once-weekly flights to Managua starting tomorrow. The flights, which will arrive and depart Managua every Wednesday evening, cost around $1,025 round trip to Rome, with tariff e tasse included, according to the company’s online booking engine.
That’s good news for Nicaragua, even if the government doesn’t want to talk about it.