The Owen Roberts International Airport terminal building was yesterday morning (Thursday) operating on reduced power supply, with no air conditioning for passengers queuing to check in for their flights.
The check-in concourse was without air conditioning as well as other areas having reduced AC capacity from about noon Wednesday and at least part of Thursday.
But from noon Thursday passenger holding tents were also set up where airlines would begin processing passengers outside. This would help alleviate congestion inside the airport and all ticketed passengers would be permitted to enter the airport terminal 90 minutes prior to departure.
The reduced electrical capacity followed an equipment failure, Minister for Tourism Charles Clifford explained at the Cabinet Press Briefing Thursday morning.
Describing the situation as unfortunate, he said they were trying to get it rectified as soon as possible, and the part needed for the main power source was being flown onto the island.
Public Relations and Marketing Manager with the Cayman Islands Airports Authority Caren Thompson said they were expecting the part to arrive on Thursday.
‘We’re hopeful that before the end of the day all systems will be functioning,’ she said.
Mr. Clifford explained the emergency generator was being tested and afterwards when they went to switch back to the direct power supply from CUC a circuit break was blown. So the airport had to operate on its generator system.
The ORIA was surprisingly quiet Thursday at noon.
Those people queuing up in the check-in area were being cooled by large industrial fans and a brisk breeze was blowing through the open doors.
‘It’s like a regular day at the airport so far, but we anticipate later today and tonight that it will get busy,’ said Department of Tourism Public Relations Assistant Nasaria Coe.
Ms Thompson said that if a Hurricane Watch was announced Thursday, that was when they expected to see a mass exodus to the airport between Thursday evening and Friday morning.
Cayman Airways flights on Thursday evening were looking full but they were putting on an extra eight departure flights on Friday morning between 5am and 9pm.
The DoT had set up two tents outside the departures area with liquid refreshments and shelter for passengers. They planned on being there up until 10.30pm Thursday evening and were waiting to see the situation on Friday.
Ms Thompson noted that the airport would not close Friday until the last flight left, estimated to be Delta Airlines flight around noon.
However, she noted that this was all subject to change depending on weather conditions.
Thursday afternoon the Department of Immigration issued a directive that no further visitors were allowed to enter the Cayman Islands until after the passing of the storm.
A press release noted that signage at the airport would clearly indicate key messages from the Cayman Islands Airports Authority and portable public address systems would broadcast other important information to passengers.
Airport parking is limited and vehicles will not be allowed to park along the sides of the road leading there. Airport security personnel and police officers will monitor parking and all traffic in and out of the airport. Traffic handling of special needs passengers will receive priority.
The Red Cross staff will be on hand to deal with health-related emergencies and will be assisted by the Health Services Authority if necessary.