Cayman Airways is suspending its air service between Houston and Grand Cayman.
The announcement was made in a press release from the airline yesterday morning.
Other changes that are coming on line with the introduction of the winter schedule (effective 9 November) include resumption of seasonal service to Chicago, an increase in New York service, daily service to Tampa and an increase in service to Kingston.
‘In order to facilitate these more popular and lucrative routes, Cayman Airways will be suspending service to Houston,’ said CEO Patrick Strasburger. He added, ‘Service was already suspended during the off-peak September/October time frame; however, advance booking reports indicated low forecasted loads throughout the peak winter season.’
Mr. Strasburger noted that the airline does not expect to re-enter the market in the medium term, but rather to instead concentrate on successful, more productive routes for the airline.
The release noted that Continental Airlines has confirmed it will continue to provide non-stop service to its hub in Houston with continuing service to the US west coast along with key destinations in Texas and Louisiana. ‘Cayman Airways is working closely with Continental Airlines and other airline partners to rebook ticketed passengers both to Houston and those connecting over Houston. Those ticketed passengers will be personally contacted by Cayman Airways reservations,’ the release notes.
Continental Airlines has the following weekly flight frequencies between Houston and Grand Cayman: one in September and October; two for November; and four for December.
‘We are planning to add a new Wednesday frequency in November (bringing the total to three times weekly) but have yet to decide on increases for the other months,’ said Continental Airlines representative Macky Osorio in response to an email query from the Caymanian Compass.
At the weekly Cabinet Press Briefing on Friday, Minister for Tourism Charles Clifford, in noting that the Houston route is also serviced by Continental Airlines, said it is one of Continental’s major hubs in the US, so that airline draws traffic not just from the Houston area, but from all over the west coast and the mid-west, so it’s very difficult for Cayman Airways to compete in that particular situation.
The release also noted that Cayman Airways is establishing interlining agreements with Continental Airlines to allow competitive through fares for travel continuing via Grand Cayman to the Sister Islands using Cayman Airways or Cayman Airways Express. ‘This way, passengers travelling from Houston gateways and continuing to the Sister Islands will continue to have seamless ticketing,’ the release said.
The introduction of the winter schedule is the second stage of Cayman Airway’s new flight schedule plan, the release notes. The initial stage was implemented on 23 June with the welcomed introduction of service to New York’s JFK airport and increased frequency to Miami, Kingston and Tampa.
This second stage includes resumption of seasonal service to Chicago with two weekly frequencies; northbound on Wednesday and Saturdays; southbound on Thursdays and Sundays.
The New York service will initially increase to four weekly frequencies effective 9 November and a fifth weekly flight will be added 9 February for service throughout peak winter season.
Service to Tampa will go daily and there will be an increase in service to Kingston from 12 to 14 weekly flights.
Mr. Clifford, commenting on the performance of the New York JFK flights at Friday’s Cabinet press briefing, said the numbers have been extremely impressive. ‘We are running significantly ahead of our target and even in the month of August, which is a very slow month, we have a number of flights that sold out, but most flights are running, on average, about 84 passengers.’
The airline’s initial forecast for summer, before the flights began, had been to carry 54 passengers per departure, building up to 82 passengers per departure in peak winter.