Although the national flag carrier Cayman Airways is to reduce the number of jets in the fleet from four to five, this will not impact service, said Minister of Tourism Charles Clifford.
In fact, retiring the 737-200 plane will create a more efficient airline, the Minister said during the Legislative Assembly last week.
The plane is to be retired by March 2007.
President and CEO of Cayman Airways Mike Adam explains that there are no plans to replace this plane and it should not affect routes because the projected schedule is built on operating four jet aircraft.
The retirement of the plane was decided by management and the Board of Cayman Airways, in consideration of its fleet programme.
‘VP-CAL B737-200 is due for a heavy ‘D’ check in March 2007 and in light of the expected high cost of the check, the shareholder has opted to sell the aircraft at this point,’ Mr. Adam explained.
A ‘D’ check is the heaviest maintenance check to be carried out on an airplane. It requires taking the entire airplane apart for inspection and this must be performed at a maintenance base.
Lufthansa Consulting will begin the efficiency audit on Cayman Airways this week and they expect to finish in little over a month, by 22 June, said Mr. Adam.
This is something he believes is a good step for the future of the airline. ‘The end result of the audit, in addition to the findings, will clearly provide recommendations and improvement measures for each area analyzed, as well as general considerations on CAL’s business plan and strategy’.
Mr. Clifford said that the airline has adopted ambitious targets amidst high fuel prices and growing competition. For 2006/07, the airline has aimed to dramatically reduce its losses. The airline will strive to achieve these savings by strategically reducing its expenditures, increasing revenue and by seeking to implement the findings of the efficiency audit it is undergoing.
In terms of seeking to influence its internal performance by achieving greater efficiencies, the airline is reviewing the performance of all routes and some schedule modifications may result, the Minister noted.
Meanwhile the cargo operation is expected to generate continued growth in excess of 30 per cent.
Mr. Adam explains, ‘The number of dedicated freighter flights will be moderately increased and the range of services will be expanded such that the cargo service better meets the needs of local customers. The service will move towards door to door. The new cargo information system, implemented in February 2006, is expected to greatly improve customer service and provide improved controls over goods shipped.’
Mr. Adam added that the airline is also investigating the possibility of assuming responsibility for the cargo warehouse.
Mr. Clifford also announced that two new twin otter planes are being purchased for Cayman Airways to replace the current two, for which the leases are not being renewed.
‘Because planes are in such short supply and high demand the owners are not extending the lease,’ he explained.
In fact, the cost of purchasing the two planes puts Cayman Airways in a better position financially than leasing. The repayment for the loan works out less than the cost of the current lease, he said.
The lease expires on the two existing planes this coming 29 May.
The first of the new planes will arrive on island on 22 May and the next one seven days later, making both new planes available for service without any interruptions.
The engines on both planes are new and both are in very good condition generally, he said.
With regard to inter-island service, an overall revenue increase forecast is for 16 per cent, said Mr. Adam: flights 2 per cent, passengers 5 per cent and yield 11 per cent.
Also, Minister Clifford said that as part of Cayman Airways’ commitment to improving service from Cayman Brac, passengers travelling to Miami via Grand Cayman are no longer required to re-check their bags in Grand Cayman.