CAL’s JFK route explained

I refer to the headline story titled “Lufthansa opposed JFK,” which appeared in the Cayman Observer, issue 148, 5 – 11 July 2007.

The article contained three inaccurate statements, which I write to correct.

The first is where the article stated that “The Cayman Observer understands that advisors with Germany’s Lufthansa Consulting, hired last year to audit the airline’s operations, told airline executives that JFK was not viable.”

This statement is incorrect.

Lufthansa reviewed several options, including JFK and advised on the pros and cons of all of the potential routes.

It is normal in these types of assessments to review findings and the data that supports them before making an ultimate decision.

In the final analysis everyone, including the Department of Tourism and the private sector, agreed that non-stop service to JFK in New York was the best choice with the greatest potential to offer support to our tourism and financial services sectors while at the same time offering direct access to New York City for our local customers’ leisure interests.

The advanced bookings on the JFK route demonstrate that this decision was the correct one with bookings approximately 20 per cent ahead of where we anticipated them to be at this point.

The second point in the story that requires correction involves the claim that “Tourism Minister Charles Clifford, who has a seat on the board of Cayman Airways and is ultimately responsible for the airline, also apparently suggested that the airline may prefer to go to Newark.”

While it is true that I am the Minister with constitutional responsibility for Cayman Airways, I am certainly not a member of the board and I certainly did not suggest that we fly to Newark. We would face direct competition from Continental had we chosen Newark.

As Minister responsible for Cayman Airways I am required to consider and approve or disapprove any new route proposed by the national flag carrier.

In making decisions such as these I fully consider all relevant information from the experts in the airline, including the consultants, as well as data from the Department of Tourism.

It follows that had I not approved the proposal for service to JFK we would not have started service to that gateway.

The third point that requires correction is the reference to flights to Tampa Florida being “scheduled to begin soon.”

Of course Cayman Airways has been flying to Tampa for many years and the performance of this route supports daily service to that gateway, which is planned in the near future.

I was asked about some of these issues in last Friday’s press briefing (6 July) by the reporter that wrote the story in the Cayman Observer and while I answered the questions I didn’t realise at that point that the story had already been published in the paper that same morning and that the questions were being asked after the fact.

It is regrettable that the Cayman Observer did not contact me for clarification on these issues prior to going to print.

Had they done so what was otherwise a very well written article would have been completely accurate and more informative.

Charles E. Clifford – Minister of Tourism, Environment, Investment and Commerce

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