Opposition leader McKeeva Bush told Cayman 27 the country’s national flag carrier needs to act on the opportunities brought by the opening of Cuba to American commercial airline traffic.
The former premier is critical of the airline’s launch last year of a route from Cayman Brac to the city of Holguin in eastern Cuba. Last week, the airline announced it would be discontinuing that route in April in favor of service from the Brac to Havana.
Mr. Bush said Cayman Airways should explore using Cuba as a hub between US cities like Miami and New York to Cayman, and opening new gateways to North America’s west coast.
“They need to move their expansion so that [Cayman Airways] is not left in a stranglehold, but that the Cayman Islands is utilizing Cayman Airways as a catalyst for our tourism development as it was meant to be, and not leaving ourselves and our tourism sector to the whims and fancy, or policies, of what is beginning to happen in Cuba and the United States,” said Mr. Bush.
But Cayman Airways CEO Fabian Whorms told Cayman 27 there’s a lot more to opening a new gateway for the airline than simply deciding where to land the airplane.
He said the airline is meeting next month with the Department of Tourism to discuss the possibility of potential new gateways for tourism.
Mr. Whorms said due to existing air service agreements between Cuba, the US, and UK, the idea of Havana as a Cayman Airways hub likely won’t fly.
“None of those agreements give us the right to fly from Cuba or any third country to another third country. It comes up all the time, people are always saying why don’t we fly from here to there, but it all has to do with route rights, and we don’t have that route right,” said Mr. Whorms.
Mr. Whorms said Cayman Airways will continue to watch what happens as airlift increases from the US to our neighbor to the north.