New passenger fees added

Passengers flying out of Cayman airports will be charged an additional $13 each from 1 January.

The money will go toward paying in part for the ongoing expansion and redevelopment of the Owen Roberts International Airport, acting Cayman Islands Airports Authority Chief Executive Officer Fred Sambula said.

The CIAA announced on Wednesday the introduction of a passenger facilities charge, saying it was one of the last countries in the world to apply for such a charge, which ha been sanctioned by the Airports Council International, a global association of airport operators.

Airlines will collect the fee during ticket sales and later pay it to the CIAA.

Mr. Sambula said that following CIAA recommendations, the government cabinet approved the charge of $13 per person for all outward bound passengers, excluding crew and children younger than two.

The charge only applies to international flights departing Cayman, Mr. Sambula said. He said he was not able to give exact figures of how much the new charges would raise, but described the sum as a sizeable amount.

The introduction of the fee was met by criticism by opposition MLA Cline Glidden.

‘This is another form of taxation by the government,’ Mr. Glidden said, describing the additional fees as ‘more hardship on the people of Cayman’.

Mr. Glidden said the new charges would hit the tourism sector.

‘People are already complaining that the Cayman Islands is too expensive a destination. This will not help in terms of our competitiveness as an tourist destination,’ he said.

Owen Roberts airport serves approximately 800,000 passengers annually. The expanded facility is being designed to process 1.25 million passengers per year. The full cost of the expansion has not been revealed by government since it first announced plans for it in January 2007.

‘All airports, whether publicly or privately financed, depend heavily on this type of funding to assist with capital improvements and ongoing maintenance of airport facilities and services,’ Mr. Sambula said.

The works at the airport so far have included resurfacing the airport roads, expanding the parking lots, creating larger security screening areas and enhancing the departure lounge seating, he said.

Future works will involve the expansion of the ticketing hall, construction of a domestic terminal, a new arrival and two departure halls and the installation of four jet bridges.

‘Passengers will continue to benefit from improvements at Owen Roberts International Airport and will see their passenger facilities charge money at work over the next two years,’ Mr. Sambula said.

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