Cayman Airways is losing more than $20 million a year and is
a serious drain on the country’s budget. In an ideal world, Cayman would find a
willing party to invest in Cayman Airways without controlling interest.
Miraculously, such an interested party – the San Miguel
Corporation – has come forward and approached the government about investing.
Yet most of what we’ve been able to observe regarding that
proposal from a local perspective is disdain.
This huge conglomerate is the largest publicly listed food,
beverage and packaging company in Southeast Asia, employing more than 17,000
people across the Asia-Pacific region. The company also owns a 49 per cent
share in Philippines Airlines, the national flag carrier,
Once one of Asia’s largest airlines, PAL – as it is called –
had financial difficulties in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Now out of
receivership, PAL, with the help of San Miguel Corporation, is trying to regain
its former glory.
The airline is undergoing a fleet modernisation process and
this year alone PAL purchased 64 new Airbus aircraft for US$9.5 billion.
Despite its impressive expansion and the fact that PAL is
the only airline in the Philippines that has an internationally recognised
safety accreditation,it has a problem: The US Federal Aviation Authority
downgraded the Philippines aviation regulator in 2008, meaning no
Philippines-based airline can change the aircraft it is flying to the United
States or increase the frequency of its flights there. Cayman just might be in
a position to help PAL.
Getting involved with San Miguel and PAL could be a
game-changer for Cayman Airways and the country, especially since upgrading
Cayman’s aviation infrastructure is also a part of the discussions.
We would think the people here would be happy that the
government is finally doing something to address the perennial Cayman Airways
problem. Instead, it seems some – possibly with political agendas – want only
to criticise without even knowing all
This situation is one of the reasons for our fear that
Cayman is becoming an increasingly hostile place for investors. With the way
things are going these days, it is really a wonder that Cayman gets inward
investment at all anymore.