Today’s Editorial for June 6: National carrier just what we need

From all accounts Cayman Airways is looking the airline crisis in the face and saying ‘bring it on.’

The airline took on board a new plane earlier this week.

And as the 737-300 jet was being christened, oil prices continued to rise.

Just a couple of days after the new plane was welcomed to our shores, one of the airlines that services the Cayman Islands reported some devastating news to its workforce.

Continental Airlines, which offers direct flights between Houston and the Cayman Islands announced it was laying off 3,000 employees.

It was the latest airline to make major cuts as carriers try to cope with record high fuel prices, which have nearly doubled in the past year.

Fewer flights means fewer planes and we don’t yet know what Continental’s cuts will mean to service here.

The fuel crisis is so drastic that an emergency meeting was held last week in Antigua where members of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation were briefed on the record increase in fuel prices and CTO’s concerns about the impact the high costs will have on the region.

Already American Eagle has pulled service out of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

It’s expected that regional governments and airline officials will come to Grand Cayman later this month to continue to talk about the high cost of fuel and its impact on airlines.

Without tourism the Caribbean would be what it once was – an ocean filled with small islands struggling.

Minister of Tourism Charles Clifford warns that the Eastern Caribbean will more likely feel the brunt of the airline crisis.

We are fortunate that we have our own national carrier that is upgrading its fleet to ensure we can ferry tourists who spend their money here, which boosts our economy.

It’s also vital that we have our own national carrier to evacuate those who want to leave the Islands when a hurricane threatens.

Fuel prices aren’t going to go down any time soon and it may be that we see some of our own price hikes with our national carrier.

It’s a business and it has to make money, just as all businesses do.

But it is also our lifeline – both financially and in times of weather-related trouble.

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