The Cayman Islands has reached an agreement with JetBlue Airways to commence flights between Grand Cayman and both Boston and New York.
Starting on 15 November, the airline will fly roundtrip between John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Owen Roberts International Airport in Grand Cayman on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Also, roundtrip Saturday service between Grand Cayman and Boston’s Logan International Airport is scheduled to begin 17 November.
Cayman Islands Department of Tourism Director Shomari Scott said the Cayman Islands government has been engaged in ongoing discussions with JetBlue for quite some time.
“Over the last two years we ramped up our efforts to show the potential of this direct service with Jet Blue and demonstrate that by working in tandem, we can increase the latent demand from the US into the Cayman Islands,” he said. “Last year was the best year for visitation in the last 10 years and this year is tracking 3 per cent over last year.”
Grand Cayman is the 74th destination for the carrier and the 23rd in the Caribbean. John Checketts, director of route planning for the airline, explained the carrier’s thought process.
“Our Latin America and Caribbean destinations continue to flourish and based on this support that we continue to receive from our customers, we are excited to add the beautiful Cayman Islands to our growing network. “Whether travellers are seeking relaxation or adventure, attractions like Seven Mile Beach, swimming with stingrays, snorkelling or scuba diving are just a few options to explore in this tropical, aquatic playground,” Mr. Checkett said.
The airline is based in New York and has a major hub there, which could help Cayman’s tourism target additional new markets. Jane van der Bol of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association welcomed the new flights.
“With airlift being a global concern, especially in the Caribbean, the news of JetBlue coming to Cayman is very good news. JetBlue is quickly becoming the major force within the Caribbean and it is important for our visitors and for our tourism product that JetBlue pick Cayman as a destination.
“The service from JFK and Boston comes at the perfect time to support our high season market with competitive rates.
This is a value for our visitors to the Cayman Islands,” noted Ms van der Bol.
The association’s executive director noted that Boston had been a target market previously for Cayman.
“Cayman Airways was in Boston in the past and we believe that opening up this gateway again will bring a new reach to a region that will take the JetBlue nonstop flight to Cayman – so the bottom line is increased stay-over visitors, which means more spend on island.
“With JetBlue having almost one-third of the carrier’s route network in Latin America and the Caribbean, the advertising dollars by JetBlue will more than likely be promoting these areas heavily, which will bring more awareness to the Caribbean and the Cayman Islands as a tourism destination,” Ms van der Bol said.
Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush confirmed that the new services were “the culmination of much time, effort and many discussions between government agencies here in Cayman and representatives from JetBlue”.
“Reaching this agreement to provide services is an exciting and welcomed result which will move the destination closer to achieving our goal of increasing visitors to the Cayman Islands from two of our top source markets,” he said, noting that New York was the top source for visitors and Boston was No. 4.
The new flights will be undertaken in planes from JetBlue’s Airbus A320 fleet. The carrier promises “the most legroom in coach of any US airline” and runs 800 flights daily across its network. Although JetBlue does not participate in any alliances with other airlines, it does have codesharing agreements with a number of international carriers including Aer Lingus, Cape Air, Lufthansa and Hawaiian Airlines.
Flights from New York JFK to Cayman run on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, leaving 7am local time and arriving in Grand Cayman at 11am. Flights from Grand Cayman to New York JFK leave Owen Roberts International Airport at noon and arrive in New York at 3.50pm. Flights from Boston to Cayman depart at 10.25am local time, arriving in Grand Cayman at 2.35pm. Flights from Grand Cayman to Boston take off at 3.30pm and arrive in Boston at 7.25pm every Saturday.