Island hopping is the future

Connectivity between Caribbean
islands is paramount, according to the chairman of an airline company who are
looking to operate Cayman flights.

Air Turks & Caicos have applied
to run routes between Grand Cayman, Havana and Kingston. The carrier’s chairman
Lyndon Gardiner told the Caymanian Compass that inter-island travel provided opportunities
for the region.

“We’re looking to provide an
extended service throughout the northern Caribbean. Our ambitions are to build
a network that can connect all the countries together so people have an
opportunity to travel within this part of the Caribbean both for business and
leisure.

“We think that people go through
Miami as there’s very little choice and that’s why we feel that once our
service is up and running, we expect to see more and more forego the hassles of
going through Miami in favour of doing more point-to-point travel within the
region,” he said.

Mr. Gardiner said the company
believes that if there were regional connections, there would be more
likelihood that tourists would island-hop. He noted that Europeans and
Americans are taking longer vacations, which presents an opportunity for them
to move from one island to another.

“If visitors didn’t have the hassle
of having to go through the States, they would be more inclined to check two
Caribbean destinations out whilst they were here.

“We’re hoping to tie in to
long-haul airlines and provide a continuing service for passengers who come on
those flights.”

Growing country

The chairman of the airline
company, which has applied to take over several routes formerly served by Air
Jamaica, said that Air Turks & Caicos considers Cayman Islands a growing
country. He added that at present, services are being provided by Cayman Airways
and that his company’s smaller aeroplanes would complement the national
carrier’s services, rather than compete with existing routes, as they did not
need as many seats filled in order to make a route viable.

“Our focus is providing extended
connections in the northern Caribbean… Cayman, Cuba, Jamaica, Bahamas,
Dominican Republic, that circle. Long-term, we also have a plan to operate
flights to the US, but we are more concerned with regional network connections
that we’re hoping to grow.”

The process of application is in
progress with the Air Transport Licensing Authority of the Cayman Islands, with
the deadline for objections and enquiries 21 September and 5 October,
respectively. Mr. Gardiner said that Air Turks & Caicos is in ‘high gear’
and could commence the five-times weekly operations within 60 days of any
granted license.

“It seems that whilst people
recognise the need for the services, places like Cayman and Jamaica have been
very tight because the government owns the airlines. In my view, they’re
offering some sort of protection for them. Eventually I think the barriers have
to come down; the airline industry is a highly competitive business and it’s
based on quick service and fair price.

“I think we’re able to give that,
and eventually we would succeed and be the regional airline of choice for the
northern Caribbean.”

LOCALIslandhoppingSTORY

Air Turks & Caicos have applied for new routes between Grand Cayman, Havana and Kingston.
Photo: File
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1 COMMENT

  1. I couldn’t agree more. I think more inter island traveling should be encouraged. I know for one, that if i wanted to go on holiday to another Caribbean island, it would definitely be more appealing without having to go through Miami – what with waiting anywhere from 1 to several hours! Also increasing competition for flight prices will make it much better for the consumer. I would love to experience more of the islands and at present the only way to do it is on a cruise where i would still have to start my trip in Miami, bring on inter island hopping and i will be sure to book some tickets!!!

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