Spirit exits Cayman

Spirit Airlines is not resuming service between Fort Lauderdale and Grand Cayman this March, citing the US recession and decline in travel to the Caribbean.

Last August the low cost US carrier suspended its service to the Cayman Islands for six months because of increased fuel prices and lower load factors than other Caribbean markets.

It was to resume service from this March with two flights a week.

However, in an email to the Caymanian Compass, Misty Pinson from Spirit’s Corporate Communications office for North America said: ‘Due to the US recession and subsequent decline in demand for leisure travel to the Caribbean, Spirit has made the decision not to resume service to Grand Cayman at this time.’

Spirit Airlines launched daily service between Fort Lauderdale and Grand Cayman in February 2006 but scaled down service seasonally and had offered only two flights a week by August last year when service was suspended.

At that time, Ms Pinson said load factors to Grand Cayman were lower than in comparable Caribbean markets Spirit served and she noted that Spirit’s peak season to the Cayman Islands is actually in summer.

When asked if they were considering terminating Grand Cayman service altogether, she said, ‘We constantly review the results of all markets we serve.’

At that time Minister for Tourism Charles Clifford said his Ministry was disappointed that service was being suspended but they were not surprised that Spirit would have had difficulty with their load factor on the route due to the proximity of Miami International Airport which is approximately 10 minutes flying time from Ft Lauderdale.

In 2007, Cayman Airways, which had also run flights between Grand Cayman and Fort Lauderdale, pulled out of that market because the market size wasn’t there to uphold the flights and Fort Lauderdale was competing with nearby Miami.

Just this month Air Jamaica ceased service between Jamaica and Grand Cayman, having most recently serviced Grand Cayman with two return flights a week.

Air Jamaica exited Grand Cayman as part of a cost saving measure to reduce losses.

Cayman Airways provides service to Jamaica every day of the week, with two flights a day on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.