The October 2010 merger of air giants United and Continental could increase Cayman’s connectivity.
Once things settle down from an organisational point of view in the new United Continental holdings company, said Acting Director of Tourism Shomari Scott, Cayman intends to discuss future possibilities.
“With the mergers it gives us a lot more potential to work more closely with them, although at the moment they are working through the management structure, who the new points of contact are, and making sure all the thousands of employees are fully-aligned with who is doing what [under the new structure]. They are just recalibrating; then we will be able to have that direct line [of communication].
Some of the possibilities include new direct airlift, as well as understanding all of the companies’ domestic United States connection points. “It will be possible to work with their vacation arms, if there isn’t a direct flight from a certain part of the United States, making it known how easy it still is to get to Cayman Islands and the fact that they can make the flights with the connection times such that they aren’t a burden on that passenger [who does not have access to a direct flight,]” explained the tourism chief.
He added that there may also be possibilities for increased longer-haul connectivity through the UK and mainland European source markets.
“There would be capability not only by coming on British Airways direct [as at present], but also if there are more flights working in unison, coming through different parts of the United States, be it New York, Chicago, Miami or other places that make sense we can understand what those connections are and work with our European office to promote the one-stop, transatlantic to US mainland flights into the Cayman Islands.”
Airlift is continually being reappraised in the tourism sector, said Mr. Scott.
“As it stands, we have good airlift from a direct standpoint but there are always persons [who want] to make that one hop. Washington, DC, is a perfect example: for years we didn’t have a direct service but when you actually looked at the visitors coming from DC, they were making one hop on American Airlines through Miami.
“The market was therefore ripe with the persons within our demographic, and it made sense for them to want to come direct to Cayman Islands, so Cayman Airways did a great job providing them with that direct air service,” said Mr. Scott. He added that subsequently United Airlines announced their own services between Cayman and Washington’s Dulles International airport after having seen the potential inherent in that route. Weekly services begin on Saturday, 19 February.
The merger between United and Continental in October 2010 created the world’s biggest airline. During 2011, the two companies will gradually merge operations, enabling them to mesh their planes, schedules, crews and maintenance programmes.