The national flag carrier was reworking its schedule yesterday morning to include as many evacuation flights as it could from Grand Cayman with the impending Hurricane Dean.
‘Cayman Airways is doing everything it can to maximise its assets in rescheduling and putting out notifications through the CITA, the SITA and DoT,’ said CEO Patrick Strasburger.
He added that all the regular flights for this weekend are full anyway, but they are working through their scheduling process for adding in evacuation flights.
Mr. Strasburger said they would be waiving the change fee or fare difference on tickets yesterday through Wednesday, so there would be no penalty for changing tickets.
Although he could not say yesterday morning how many extra flights would be put on, VP Commercial John Wrightington said, ‘We are going to concentrate on putting on as many as possible’.
Visit www.caycompass.com for updates on flights.
Mr. Wrightington said the Cayman Airways reservations line (949-2311) may be tied up, so going to the City Ticket office on Owen Roberts drive at the new CAL headquarters is another option. But, he emphasised that this is only the case if booked with Cayman Airways, otherwise individuals must contact whatever airline they are booked with.
Mr. Wrightington also said that even if people get on an evacuation flight to Tampa or Miami they are themselves responsible for their own accommodation in the US
How long Cayman Airways flies will be up to flight operations and will be based on how fast the storm is moving.
Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority is reminding all businesses that there are regulatory requirements for the licensing of all air transport operations even during emergency times. ‘It is therefore necessary for all non-scheduled air transport charter operators to obtain the appropriate permit from the CAACI prior to operating air transport services into/out of the territory.’
Businesses and/or individuals that are planning pre or post evacuation from the island using charter aircraft are encouraged to contact the CAACI at 345-949-7811, email: [email protected] or visit http://www.caacayman.com/2005/commercialafs/ to obtain the necessary information.
Meanwhile, hotel managers are cautiously watching the weather.
At the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, guests had been notified of the situation and were tracking the storm, with each guest making their own decision on whether to depart early, said Communications Director Melissa Ladley.
The hotel is following a detailed plan of action where it does a countdown to the day the storm arrives.
The hotel is not enacting any evacuation plans, Ms Ladley said. However, she noted, ‘We do everything we can to assist guests if they want to leave.’
General Manager of Comfort Suites Tom Mason said they are tracking the storm every hour and they have their emergency plan in place, with all the supplies needed. ‘We’re prepared,’ he said. ‘But right now there is no panic. Everyone is watching and being cautious to see how things go.’
At both hotels guests are being kept up to date on flights and new information from the airlines for if they opt to leave.
Some cancellations have come in for the next few days and thanks to the hotels’ hurricane policies there is no cancellation fee in the case of a hurricane.