Today’s Editorial April 24: Time is now for CAL audit

When Government announced it was going to hire an outside auditor to take a good, hard look at the operations of Cayman Airways we were confident they’d choose the right company.

And it appears they have.

Tourism Minister Charles Clifford announced at Friday’s Cabinet meeting that the contract has been awarded to Lufthansia Consulting, which is part of Lufthansa Airways in Germany.

Those familiar with the airline industry know they can take stock in the name Lufthansa. It’s a professional airline company that is lauded throughout the world.

If any group can tell Cayman Air Lines and the Cayman Islands Government what exactly is ailing the national carrier, Lufthansa can.

Not only will Lufthansa be able to tell us what’s wrong, but they’ll also be able to offer solutions.

It will be a long and involved process, to be sure.

And during it all, the staff and management of CAL will be given the opportunity to buy in to the process.

That is a crucial step in fixing what is wrong at CAL.

Staff and management will get a rare opportunity to acquire some of the vast knowledge of Lufthansa and turn that new-found learning into practical application here in the Cayman Islands.

Goals of the audit have already been put forth: to improve organisational productivity of Cayman Airways; streamline and update information technology; increase effectiveness and competitiveness of passenger and cargo marketing and sales; improve aircraft use and lower the cost of per mile seat; increase efficiency of flight operations while preserving the high safety standards CAL is famous for; and improve the efficiency of the purchasing process.

This is not the first CAL audit, but Mr. Clifford promised it would be the first comprehensive look at the airline.

While CAL is known for its safety and timeliness, it has operated in the past at a deficit, causing the Government to infuse it with capital.

A way must be found to make the airline more profitable while maintaining its reputation.

This is an audit that is long overdue.

And it comes at a good time as we’re seeing oil prices increase the world over, which in turns means the cost of jet fuel is going up.

Cayman Airways is also now facing an increase in competition with low-cost airlines like Sprint.

Put all of these factors together and you can see how important it is that CAL is as efficient as it can be.

Government has its hands full with all the capital spending it plans to do and can’t afford to bail out Cayman Airways as much as it has in the past.

The Minister has assured us that some of Lufthansa’s recommendations will be implemented quickly.

Others will take longer.

The results of the audit aren’t expected until June.

In the meantime we wish the staff and management at CAL, its board of directors and the Ministry of Tourism good luck in taking on this daunting task.

We look forward to learning of the regulations and watching as a great airline company becomes one of the best.

CAL is our national carrier and it is in the best interest of us all to see that it succeed in an efficient, safe and effective manner.

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