Chairperson of Cayman Airways Angelyn Hernandez says Sir Turtle is not going anywhere.
In fact, Ms Hernandez said she is baffled as to how recent rumours that Sir Turtle is being retired from Cayman Airways, were started.
When asked if she believes that Sir Turtle’s future with Cayman Airways is safe, she said, ‘I don’t think Sir Turtle is going anywhere.’
Sir Turtle is the scarf-wearing, one-eyed, peg-legged mascot and symbol of Cayman Airways, continuously in use since 1978.
For the past few weeks a petition has been going the rounds via email asking people to sign their names to save the beloved iconic symbol of Cayman Airways.
Instigated by Cayrock’s morning DJs Ben Maxwell and Teri Bilewitch, it has collected 1,307 signatures.
Ms Hernandez said it has never been said by anyone from Cayman Airways or by the Minister for Tourism that Sir Turtle will be gotten rid of.
‘I’d love to know where the rumour started. We’ve never said he’s going anywhere,’ she said.
What has been spoken about recently is the re-branding of the national flag carrier, which goes much deeper than an icon or mascot like Sir Turtle, she said.
‘There is nothing on record that ever said we plan on getting rid of him,’ she said.
Last month in the Caymanian Compass Minister for Tourism Charles Clifford spoke about the re-branding of the airline and said, ‘It’s not to say the logo will change or the colours will change, but they may, [or] Sir Turtle might move to another part of the plane.’
Mr. Clifford also said he understood how Caymanians felt about Sir Turtle, which has been Cayman Airway’s logo appearing on the tail of its aircraft for nearly 30 years.
Ms Hernandez added that Sir Turtle represents Cayman Airways and the Cayman Islands.
When asked if perhaps Sir Turtle will be changed or updated in any way, she said it is too early to start that thought process and no decision has been made yet.
But the one good thing that has come with all this hype and rumour about Sir Turtle, she said, is that Cayman Airways has now been given the public’s feedback, which will help them later on.
In speaking about the re-branding process of Cayman Airways in general, Ms Hernandez said it reflects what the identity of the company is.
As Cayman Airways is going through a turnaround process currently, re-branding is an important aspect of this. ‘It’s important in knowing what we stand for and what we want to represent.
‘It goes right into the heart of culture and what the company means to people looking on. It also translates into how employees conduct themselves and how the company conducts its business.’
Those that started the petition said they are blown away by the petition’s results. ‘We think it speaks volumes about how many people care about one of the de facto national symbols of Cayman and how passionately they feel that Sir Turtle should stay,’ said Mr. Maxwell.
He said the petition was to be submitted to the Department of Tourism at the end of this month, but since the logo is set to remain, they feel that they have accomplished their mission.
Petition comments include Wendy Hayward saying, ‘Sir Turtle was a welcome sight in Miami – a symbol of ‘home’ when we lived in Cayman. Please continue to use this well known symbol’.
Colin Ebanks said, ‘It not only represents our airline, but also what Christopher Columbus once named the Cayman Islands i.e. Las Tortugas. Sir Turtle represents a very important part of our culture. Sir Turtle must stay’.
Christine Solly said, ‘Why would anyone think of changing this valuable little piece of our history?’
Daniel Stuart says, ‘I am three years old and every time I see Sir Turtle I say ‘Cayman Islands’.’
Lana Jarvis wrote, ‘After Ivan, returning to the island I had tears in my eyes when I saw Sir Turtle at Miami Airport’.
Brenda Rivers said ‘Leave Sir Turtle alone. He has been holding up the airline for almost 30 years. Not bad for a guy with a peg-leg and an eye-patch. On a serious note, why would anyone want to change him?’
Six-year-old Arianna Ringrose said, ‘If you take away Sir Turtle it will be bad luck. I don’t know what would happen to my little sister. She loves ‘the turtle’.’
Sir Turtle was originally created by Suzy Soto in 1963 and sold for $1 to the Department of Tourism in the early 1970s. A variation of this logo, with a flying scarf, is used as the symbol of Cayman Airways.