Atlantic Airways passengers still stranded

Atlantic Airlines’ passengers are still stranded in the Cayman Islands and Honduras.

The airline’s operating permits, both in Cayman and Honduras, have expired.

Miriam Foster, a sponsor for one of the passengers stranded in the Cayman Islands, said there are no Atlantic Airlines flights for the passengers to get out on.

Atlantic Airlines’ operating permit, which gives it permission to operate commercial air transport services into and out of the Cayman Islands, expired on the 29 January, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands confirmed, and it had not been re-issued.

This has left passengers who had bought tickets without a way home.

Last week an email from Atlantic Airlines to the Caymanian Compass stated that the airline was hoping to operate flights on Tuesday or Wednesday, 10 or 11 February.

But this never happened.

Last week Nicoela McCoy, director of Commercial Affairs Regulation &Administration with the CAACI confirmed to the Caymanian Compass that it was still awaiting outstanding information that would enable Atlantic Airlines to operate out of Cayman.

‘There’s many students and a pregnant woman here trying to get out,’ said Ms Foster.

She said some passengers were planning to charter a plane themselves last weekend at the cost of $500 each, but in the end they could not afford to do that. They want Atlantic Airlines to refund their money for the second part of their ticket.

‘I’m currently trying to get a transit visa for my helper’s daughter so she can go through the US,’ said Ms Foster.

This involves paying fees along with the cost of the ticket and would involve her getting back to Honduras via another carrier through the US.

Ms Foster had sponsored the trip to Cayman of the 15-year-old student to visit her mother here.

And now she is stuck here.

‘She’s currently missing school,’ said Ms Foster.

Because the child is travelling on her own, they are reluctant to let her travel back to Honduras via Cuba or Panama, said Ms Foster.

Other passengers are just waiting to see what happens.

Many of those are students who also were sponsored to come here on their school break who are visiting parents or family here, according to Ms Foster.

Some are hoping that Rollins Air, which is seeking to start up regular service between Grand Cayman and Honduras, can get them out in March.

‘I can confirm that we have received an application from Rollins Air that is incomplete and as such does not meet the requirements at this time for an operating permit to be granted, therefore no operating permit has been issued to Rollins Air,’ Mrs. McCoy said.

Repeated attempts by the Caymanian Compass to contact Atlantic Airlines by phone this week were not successful and emailed questions went unanswered.

Last week, Boris Fererra, sub-director, Honduras Civil Aviation Authority said Atlantic Airlines had closed its operations in Honduras.

But, also last week, a letter from Atlantic Airlines signed by VP Planning and Marketing, Bill Lara, stated: ‘It is absolutely untrue that Atlantic Airlines is planning [to] or has closed down; we are resuming operations stronger than ever . . .’

The letter said there had been a restructuring of the airline and that it was getting back on track again. ‘We have been serving the air transport needs of the Cayman Islands for many years already and plan to continue doing so for the years to come.’

Cayman Airways is planning to start flights between Grand Cayman and Honduras.

As of this week, Olivia Scott Ramirez, manager Corporate Communications, said CAL has not received approval from the Honduran government for its application to operate regular flights into various cities in Honduras.