Cabo Verde: Tourist flights from Luxembourg resume for first time in pandemic

Luxembourg-based airline Luxair has resumed flights to Sal, Cabo Verde’s most tourism-oriented island, more than a year after it suspended international links due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Grandy Duchy’s embassy in Praia has said.

Luxembourg is one of Cabo Verde’s most important aid partners as well as having received thousands of emigrants from the archipelago over recent decades.

In an interview with Lusa, the chargé d’affaires of the Luxembourg embassy, Thomas Barbancey, explained that since 26 March Luxair had been undertaking twice-weekly flights to the island, which he described as a destination of choice for tourists from his country.

“Cabo Verde is obviously a favoured destination for Luxembourg tourists, as it is for European tourists in general,” he told Lusa. “Before the pandemic, Luxair offered direct flights from Luxembourg to Sal and Boavista during the winter months.” 

The resumption of flights from Luxembourg, for now only to Sal, comes a year after Cabo Verde suspended all international flights as part of measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19. They have only begun to be resumed on a gradual basis since October – and to Sal since December – after investment in equipment and extra certification of health units.

“If it is still too early to draw conclusions about the prospects for the resumption of tourism in Cabo Verde, we can, however, underscore the importance of the efforts of the Cabo Verde authorities to improve health conditions and surveillance in the country, as well as regarding the transparency of this whole process,” said Barbancey. “It is important that this continue.”

According to the chargé d’affaires, there are fewer than 100 Luxembourg nationals living permanently in Cabo Verde, according to the latter’s voluntary register, with the “dynamic … obviously stronger in the other direction”. 

The Cabo Verde community in Luxembourg officially numbers around 2,500 people, though this does not take into account people of Cabo Verde original who also hold Luxembourg or other European Union nationality, such as Portugal.

“Economic and trade relations are still below their potential, but several Luxembourg businessmen have already recognised Cabo Verde’s attractiveness, not only in terms of good governance, respect for the rule of law and legal security, but also because of its strategic geographical position,” said Barbancey.

He added that there was particular interest in the maritime economy, as well as in “cutting-edge areas such as information and communication technologies, digital [industries] and the renewable energy sector”.

“Relations between our two countries are excellent, full of deep ties of friendship and trust, at all levels,” he said, noting that from an institutional point of view both countries have resident ambassadors and that Cabo Verde is the only African country with a resident ambassador in Luxembourg.

Meanwhile, from a “political point of view” there are regular contacts and visits at the highest level, the last of which took place in February 2020, over four days, with a joint visit to three islands in Cabo Verde by three Luxembourg government ministers – of cooperation, of environment, climate and sustainable development and of energy.