Cayman Airways is celebrating half a century as the national flag carrier, but as the airline grows old gracefully, its fleet is about to get much younger.
By the end of 2018, the airline says it expects to take delivery of the first of its brand new Boeing 737 8-Max aircraft in November, and have it ushered into service by December.
Cayman airways CEO Fabian Whorms said when its fleet modernization plan is complete in 2020, the airline will have the youngest fleet in the region. He told Cayman 27 in an extended interview last week that the new 737 8-Max aircraft have some distinct advantages over Cayman Airways’ current planes.
First is range. He said the new aircraft can make flights approaching seven hours in duration, giving Cayman Airways and the department of tourism virtually unlimited options when contemplating new gateways. Next, and perhaps most important to the airline’s bottom line, is efficiency.
Mr. Whorms told Cayman 27 the 8-Max burns 20% less fuel per trip than the 737-300’s.
At the same time, the 8-Max has room for 40 more passengers, which he said helps Cayman Airways maximize every drop of fuel that goes in the tank.
“What gives an aircraft range is fuel capacity, and fuel burn,” said Mr. Whorms.
He said the Boeing 737 8-Max outperforms the airline’s aging 737-300’s in both these categories.
“The fuel efficiency alone is tremendous. If you look at the aircraft specifications, it is going to burn about 20% less fuel per trip then one of our 737-300’s,” he explained.
According to the manufacturer’s brochures, the 737-300 has a fuel capacity of 5,311 gallons, and burns around 2,400 kilograms of fuel per hour, giving it a range of 2,255 nautical miles.
The new 8-Max has a fuel capacity of 6,280 gallons, and burns just over 2-thousand kilograms of fuel per hour, giving it a range of 3,825 nautical miles, almost 70% more range than the 737-300.
The extra range, he told Cayman 27, brings opportunity.
“The 737–8 max aircraft that we are getting has the capability to get to virtually everywhere in North America, which means that we can hit most airports in Canada, all airports in the United States, everywhere in Central America, and a good chunk of South America.
With 40 more seats in the 8-Max, the added efficiency could help cushion the blow of a $5-6 million dollar decrease in Cayman Airways’ margins brought about by a downturn in the airline’s Havana service.
“This will help to bring our cost base back in line with our revenue base, so, we are really looking forward to this being a good game changer,” said Mr. Whorms.
And as for where Cayman Airways plans to fly its new 8-Max on its maiden voyage upon entering service in December”
“Where it is going to go on his first flight? That is everyone’s question,” said Mr. Whorms. “We are hoping to do something really nice in that regard. I won’t share any more details on that right now but it may well be a new gateway, that’s all I have to say.”
Mr. Whorms told Cayman 27 the airline has already seen the benefit of added range with it’s next generation 737-800 that went into service in late 2016.
He said the airline has operated at least three charters to airports in California, to cities like Fresno and Sacramento that were once well outside the range of the old 300’s.
The first of the new jets are expected to arrive in December 2018, with the next three arriving in March of 2019, September 2019, and September 2020.