CAL boosting international offerings

Cayman Airways is in the midst of establishing arrangements to add two destinations to its international repertoire, including fulfilling a long-standing desire to tap a potentially lucrative and expanding commercial passenger market in Panama. 

Twice-weekly seasonal service to Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, Panama, as well as seasonal operations to Dallas, Texas, have been in the works for months. But service by the national flag carrier of the Cayman Islands to both markets appears to be nearing fruition with flights tentatively slated to begin to both locations this year. 

Fabian Whorms, president and chief executive officer of Cayman Airways Limited, said the government-owned airline intends to begin twice-weekly roundtrip flights between Grand Cayman and Tocumen International Airport – Central America’s busiest airport by passenger traffic – in April and continue through August. 

“The schedule is not quite finalised as yet, but we are focusing on late morning and early afternoon time slots to allow for optimised connections on Mondays and Thursdays,” Mr. Whorms said. “We are also looking at Fridays as an option, instead of Thursdays.” 

Meanwhile, the potential for Cayman Airways to offer seasonal service to and from Dallas also remains in the formative stages. Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush said last week during a business conference he anticipated those flights would follow suit this summer.  

“CAL is currently working through the logistics of scheduling for both Panama and Dallas … and will have more information in the coming weeks,” Mr. Whorms said. 

Mr. Whorms said Cayman Airways’ flight schedule to and from Tocumen International Airport would highlight an interlining agreement it shares with Panama’s national flag carrier Copa Airlines, a carrier that has grown rapidly during recent years on rising demand for air transport within Latin America and the Caribbean.  

Interlining is a commercial agreement between airlines to handle passengers travelling on itineraries requiring multiple airlines. In the case of Cayman Airways, the Cayman Islands economy and its connection to Panama, this could help serve as a gateway to the lucrative South American market, especially Brazil, as Copa is well-positioned to benefit from continued growth in Latin America.  

“Service will be to the Tocumen International Airport, a major connecting hub for South and Central America and our flights will be timed to connect to key flight banks into and out of Panama with our interline partners, including Copa,” Mr. Whorms said. “Through this gateway, the Cayman Islands hopes to benefit from an expanded tourism base and enhanced connectivity for the financial and commercial sectors of our community. Individuals with connections to Central and South America will now find it much easier to travel back and forth.” 

Flight time between Owen Roberts International Airport in Grand Cayman and Tocumen International Airport in Panama is about two hours – a connection the Cayman Islands Government and tourism industry officials have long eyed as facilitating a potential economic windfall. 

The Panamanian economy is the fastest growing in all of Latin America, driven by the expansion of the Panama Canal and other major infrastructure projects, according to a Centre for Aviation report issued last month. Panama is expected to record gross domestic product growth of 8 to 9 per cent in 2011 when the final figures are released, as well as GDP growth approaching 10 per cent in 2012.  

Panama’s economy is expected to be the fastest growing in Latin America during the next five years, the report read. 

As for the regional air transport market, the international intra-Latin America passenger market grew by 14 per cent in 2010 and by another 9 per cent through the first 10 months of this year, according to data from Latin American airline association ALTA. The region – of which Panama is a central hub and Tocumen International Airport a driving force with more than five million passengers annually – is expected to continue to be one of the world’s hottest growth markets in coming years. 

“We are now in process of working closely with the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce, the Cayman Islands Department of Commerce and Investment and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the route has the maximum potential for success,” Mr. Whorms said. 

Meanwhile, the prospect of Cayman Airways establishing nonstop seasonal service to and from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport also has been viewed in Cayman as instrumental for local economic growth given its potential as a springboard in facilitating passenger traffic to Grand Cayman from the US west coast. Dallas/Fort Worth was the eighth busiest airport in the world in 2010 with nearly 57 million passengers and, as a major hub for both American Airlines and cargo carrier UPS, direct service by Cayman Airways would allow the Cayman Islands increased access to its most important feeder market – the US.  

Flight time between Grand Cayman and Dallas/Fort Worth is about three hours. 

Cayman Airways Limited, a wholly-owned government company, leases four 737-300 jet airplanes and provides commercial passenger service between Grand Cayman and Miami, Tampa, New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Havana (Cuba), Kingston (Jamaica), Montego Bay (Jamaica), La Ceiba (Honduras) and the Sister Island of Cayman Brac. Cayman Airways Express, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cayman Airways Limited, owns two Twin Otter propeller planes, which provide service to the Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. 

CAL jet

Cayman Airways is tentatively scheduled to begin seasonal flights to Panama and Dallas, Texas later this year. – Photo: Jeff Brammer


  1. Direct Flights!
    A tourist incentive plan that makes sense; no Hassle Travel.
    Money better spent on this endeavor than trying to bait passing cruise ships with slabs of cement on our shores.
    The concept of; we will be build it (multi million docking facilities) and they will come for a day is ludicrous; pennies per passenger.
    This more aggressive approach of having direct, non-stop flights, to secure tourists in their home cities/towns, is the only viable route to up the economy on a long term basis.
    Unlike Boat People, they’ll be here for a week or two; fill up the empty rooms, and spend money on everything we have to offer; for more than just a day and more money per day!
    Better marketing, will result in more planes in the air catering to direct flight customers and more profits for the islands.

    Investing money, locally, in CAL (Cayman Airways Limited) will be far more beneficial in the long term, than investing in foreign built concrete.

    More planes, more people, more money, longer stay-overs, less unemployment.
    How simple and cheaper is that?

  2. Banana Republic

    Its your type of business thinking that will see this island fall deeper into the economic recession it is already in. You should be an economic advisor to the fool who is running your country into the ground.

    No tourists, no downtown business. No jobs.

    You make it seem like theres a million people in Texas waiting to come here because there is a direct flight. People can already get to Cayman on a regular basis from Texas. As for Panama, I cant comment. Maybe Bush will have his once a year, good idea.

  3. While I applaud CAL finally recognizing it needs more direct flights in from the West Coast, DFW is not the West Coast. Yes, DFW is one of the busiest airports in the world, thanks to American Airlines. If the Government wanted to really make an impact, they would negotiate with American to run a nonstop American flight from Dallas to GCM. Who on the west coast of the US and Canada are going to make airline reservations from their home town, then SWITCH Airlines to get to Cayman.
    American could drop one flight a day out of MIA and switch to DFW. There would be many Americans prefer to fly via DFW and avoid the mess of MIA.
    This CAL flight will not have that much effect. Right gateway, wrong airline!

  4. As somebody that works in the tourism industry, mr west coast visitor, I can tell you that American Airlines was asked to run a flight from DFW, however they declined but gave Cayman Airways their ‘blessing’ to do so. Everybody would agree with you that it would have been better. However as with several routes, cayman airways has gone in first and other airlines have then followed, giving us more airlift. Look at Houston and New York as the prime examples. Well done Cayman Airways for listening and acting. This is truly great news! This will really open the west coast as they are currently looking for new destinations.

  5. Dear cay2011,
    While you may work in the Tourism Industry, you are blind to the struggles of decent air lift from the West Coast. American added these destinations non stop from Dallas lately.
    Guadalajara, Mexico (GDL)
    Ixtapa, Mexico (ZIH)
    Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ)
    Nassau Bahamas (NAS)
    Panama City, Panama (PTY)
    Providenciales, Turks and Caicos (PLS)
    I am not sure how you say this will open up the West Coast… Obviously, you do not fly much as NO ONE will change their airlines from British Columbia on down to San Diego, where there are MANY divers who would love to come to Cayman and dive and stay over,to switch to CAL in Dallas, because it is there… I hope your tourism industry starts to think more about the West Coast as it does the Eastern corridor. Build it and we will come!

  6. Mr. West_Coast_Visitor

    I can’t imagine why changing airline is a big deal. With domestic and international transfer setup, you’ll still have to disembark and change plane though same airline. In terms airport wing transfer I would say 10 minutes difference is comparably immaterial. In terms of speed I don’t think AA fly faster than CAL, they are relative as per Einstein theory. As for inflight service, I would say CAL is at par but AA service is terrible.

  7. No, everything you say is accurate, up to the point of collecting your luggage DonQuijote! Take a poll and see how many visitors going to the Brac have to wait a day!

  8. Mr. West_Coast_Visitor,

    I see your concern is flight schedule, well I agree if you miss a day flight to Brac you’ll have to wait another day.

    The solution to your problem is Right gateway ANY airlines, you’ll get the best schedule you want.

  9. Don, sorry, I was talking about luggage…Left that key component out, I apologize…. It is the luggage that usually does not make it over until the next day, because of changing of airlines from what ever airlines one takes to get to GCM and switches to CAL to get to the Brac.. Has happend many times to our group. Same thing will happen in DFW for anyone changing airlines… Seen it happen so

  10. Mr. West_Coast_Visitor,

    Luggage handling is administrative matter and all airlines are susceptible. The risk is always there for as long there’s a change of aircraft at Dallas. I doubt AA will use same aircraft if your itinerary is SFO-DFW -GCM. Aside from change aircraft, there are many factors that you should consider the likes of security inspection, conveyor and tram loading and unloading. Nobody is perfect so it happens to ALL airlines.

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