“Copa Airlines brings eager visitors”

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SOME PASSENGERS on the inaugural Copa Airlines Flight CM 260 from Panama to Barbados just couldn’t wait to be in the land of their ancestors.

The historic flight left Tocumen International Airport at 10 a.m. local time Tuesday and arrived in Barbados just before 2 p.m. to an official welcome.

Doraldo Branch, travelling with wife Evon and their friend Evelia Carrington, said this was his first visit. His grandfather Charles Branch migrated to Panama in the early 1900s to work on the canal.

“I plan to catch up with any relatives, and also eat flying fish and cou-cou. I always heard about it and I want to see what it’s like and tastes like,” he added with a chuckle, his wife nodding in agreement.

Carrington, also a first-timer, was keen on “getting into contact with any of my family – the Carringtons”, though she wasn’t quite sure where they were located.

A couple seats away, Roxana Brown Larrier and her husband Jaime Brown were just counting down the minutes, even though this was her second visit.

Relatives

Her grandfather Joseph C. Larrier, a former Christian Mission Church pastor, also emigrated to Panama. She said she was the cousin of former meteorologist and television weather presenter Vic Larrier.

Sheila Wilkinson was leading a group of 13, including her daughter and grand-daughter. She said although she had been to Barbados nine times, the last being for the 50th Independence anniversary celebrations in 2016, she could not miss out on this.

“From the time I hear about it, I said I have to be on this flight. I am looking forward most to the food, family and friends.”

Before take-off, there was a short ribbon-cutting ceremony where Panamanian dancers and a folk group, dressed in national costumes, entertained the travellers. There were also speeches by Panamanian government and Copa Airlines officials.

Barbados’ Minister of Tourism and International Transport Kerrie Symmonds lauded the Copa team for working with Government for nearly a decade to see the historic moment come to pass, saying it would open up more opportunities for genealogy tourism and business for both countries and the airline. (BW)