The Twin Otter propeller planes that take passengers to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman were grounded this week, leaving passengers from the smaller of the Sister Islands to take dive boats and helicopters to catch their flights.
Tourists staying on Little Cayman have had to be ferried by dive boat to Cayman Brac to catch jet flights to Grand Cayman that replaced the cancelled Twin Otter flights, while others hired a helicopter to Owen Roberts International Airport. The jet cannot land on Little Cayman’s small airstrip.
Olivia Scott Ramirez, the airline’s corporation communications manager said: ‘Little Cayman passengers are being accommodated through these additional jet flights to Cayman Brac and are being ferried on boats for the Little Cayman segment of travel.’
All Cayman Airways Express flights to and from the Sister Islands were cancelled on Wednesday and Thursday. By press time there was no official word on whether flights on Friday and over the weekend would be cancelled, but an airline ticketing agent said on Thursday morning that all flights to Little Cayman were cancelled for Friday, while flights were at that time still scheduled for the weekend.
The Cayman Airways Express flights – seven on Wednesday and eight on Thursday – were replaced by one return jet flight in the afternoons.
Dive resorts on Little Cayman said they had heard nothing from Cayman Airways about who would pay for the dive boat trips to the Brac, but Ms Scott Ramirez said the airline was ‘covering all costs for these contingency plans for the affected passengers’.
One group staying at the Southern Cross Club chartered a helicopter for $2,800 to fly to Grand Cayman because they feared they would miss their connecting flights to Europe.
Southern Cross manager, Cate Ferreira, said the hour-long boat trip to the Brac was ‘miserable’ in the current rough seas. ‘These cancellations are a problem. We’re stranded over here,’ she said.
Ms Ferreira said Cayman Airways should have three Twin Otters servicing the Sister Islands to ensure that if one or two are out of service, there is a fallback.
Flights to the Sister Islands have been disrupted for several days, with numerous cancellations and postponements since last week.
Ms Scott Ramirez said the additional jet flights had been scheduled due to ‘unscheduled maintenance’ on the propeller planes.
Olson Anderson, CEO designate of Cayman Airways, said engineers were currently working on Twin Otters’ mechanical problems.
A press release from the airline stated it was ‘working diligently to inform and accommodate all affected passengers, and apologise for any inconveniences caused. Cayman Airways will update the travelling public with more information as it is received.’
One group staying at the Southern Cross Club chartered a helicopter for $2,800 to fly them to Grand Cayman because they feared they would miss their connecting flights to Europe.