Cayman Airways is looking into adjusting one of its year-round US routes that primarily carries summer traffic.
Minister for Tourism Charles Clifford said what could happen on the route, which he declined to name, could be to continue service from that gateway during the summer only and look at opportunities in the Eastern seaboard of the US for winter.
Cayman Airways has non-stop year-round jet service between Grand Cayman and US cities Chicago, Houston, Tampa and Miami along with its just-launched route of New York.
Mr. Clifford explained at Friday’s Cabinet press briefing that with regard to the gateway in question, it does not make sense to be operating year-round when it primarily carries summer traffic, whereas there are additional opportunities particularly on the east coast of the US in the winter.
‘We’re looking at the entire route network as we have been doing for the last year and making adjustments where we need to make adjustments,’ he said.
Mr. Clifford explained, ‘You could have a situation where rather than operating a particular gateway year-round you’re operating that gateway in the summer because that’s where the majority of the traffic is, and then you pull out the aircraft at that gateway in the winter and put them somewhere else, such as the North East or the Eastern seaboard of the US.’
With regard to the new direct service between Grand Cayman and JFK Airport in New York, Mr. Clifford explained that the decision to operate out of JFK airport, and not Newark, came about mainly because JFK is adjacent to an area that a lot of traffic comes out of – Connecticut – and because they didn’t want to directly compete with Continental Airlines, which already provides direct service from Newark, when they could provide non-stop service out of a new gateway – JFK.
‘So we’re able to provide non-stop service from a gateway we didn’t have it from before, without necessarily going head to head with one of our foreign carriers, which we very much value because it contributes to the overall tourism destination, so that’s the reason why we went into JFK,’ he said.
He added that if another airline now started service out of JFK to Grand Cayman then that would be part of the value that Cayman Airways brings to the table. The foreign carriers would not start this service before, so if the national flag carrier brings the market to the point where another airline decides to start service then that will benefit the destination and then Cayman Airways can look at somewhere new.
The initial indications are that the bookings are impressive for the JFK route, Mr. Clifford said. They are about 20 per cent ahead of where they were expected to be at this point.
Mr. Clifford said he had spoken to a customer service agent who told him there were between 87 and 95 passengers going out from Cayman, and about 100 to 110 coming in from JFK on the flights.
Business class, he said, is selling well. ‘The demand of business class has blown up out of the water. In the first month alone we have 36 people on the waiting list for business class out of JFK.’
He said that clearly the indications are that the performance of the route so far, even though it’s very early, is very impressive and suggests that the decision to operate out of JFK was the correct one.