The country's Tourism and Transport minister, José Gonçalves, said that the beginning of Cabo Verde Airlines (CVA) flights to Washington today marks the start "in a structural way" of the air hub on the Sal Island.
"Today, the air hub gets a broader scope, because we are going beyond what has been our traditional market, which was Boston and Providence, the East Coast, now we are going to Washington. And this flight marks the departure for the air hub," said the minister, who was speaking at Amílcar Cabral International Airport, on the island of Sal, at the baptism of Cabo Verde Airlines' flights to Washington, in the United States.
The official also stressed that the country is starting a "new phase", after more than 30 years of regular flights of the former public Cape Verde Airlines Company (TACV) to the US, specifically to Boston.
"A new era is beginning in Cape Verde's relationship with the United States," added José Gonçalves, who underlined the fact that one of the passengers on the inaugural flight was the United States ambassador to Cape Verde, John Jefferson Daigle.
"Cape Verde is very well positioned. We have the necessary infrastructure in the country, with four certified airports, two of which are the last departure point for the United States, a solid and well-recognized international regulatory framework, and our company which is certified to travel directly to the United States," emphasized the Cape Verde Tourism and Transport Minister.
The minister and ambassador were two of the 35 passengers on the Cabo Verde Airlines' inaugural flight to Washington, which also featured other Cape Verdean government figures and businessmen.
For the CVA Chief Executive, Jens Bjarnason, the flight from Sal to Washington, which will take place three times a week, fits in with the strategy of making Cape Verde a hub linking South America, Europe, Africa and North America.
"Today is a starting point for giving people the opportunity to travel more conveniently and faster between West Africa and the United States," said Bjarnason, who said this is a travel opportunity for Cape Verdeans, but also for Africans and Americans to explore Cape Verde.
"This is a challenge, so we need everyone to work together, the authorities, the airport and the aviation, so that everyone can be part of the team that will make this happen," continued the CVA president.
After Washington, on Monday CVA starts flying to Lagos (Nigeria) five times a week and on Wednesday to Porto Alegre (Brazil) twice a week.
Jens Bjarnason said that after a postponement, the CVA still has plans to travel to Luanda (Angola), as well as to other destinations in West Africa.
Despite stressing the "great connection" with Lisbon, the president also said that CVA is also considering the possibility of operating from other cities in Portugal, including Porto.
He later added that the airline plans to travel to Toronto, Canada.