Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush and tourism professionals gathered on Thursday, 15 November, to welcome the inaugural flight to Grand Cayman by United States commercial passenger airline JetBlue.
Premier Bush said that it was a “day of celebration” that had been highly anticipated by the Cayman Islands.
“This is an important milestone in the challenge to grow visitation from the northeastern United States,” he said. “As minister of tourism, I am extremely excited by this partnership that has been forged. We could not have found a better partner than JetBlue … to work with us for mutual benefit.” Mr. Bush went on to praise the carrier’s commitment to service and said that JetBlue’s approach dovetailed with Caymankind.
“We hope it will be JetBlue’s most successful route to the Caribbean, which would be a win-win,” the premier said.
Mr. Bush also joked that routes may be New York and Boston for now, but the next step was “the West Coast”. Mr. Bush also praised all who had come together to make it happen, from the Department of Tourism to the airports authority and tourism bodies, as well as the airline itself.
The aircraft’s first officer was Caymanian Paul Wood, who lives in the US and flies with JetBlue Airways.
On behalf of JetBlue, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer Eash Sundaram expressed the company’s good wishes and said that future bookings on the routes already looked good. He explained that the aircraft would be Airbus A320s and told the assembled crowd some of the specifications of that craft.
Mr. Sundaram noted that Leslie Brown, previously of Air Jamaica, would be the general manager for Grand Cayman.
He then presented a cheque for $10,000 to the Blue Iguana Recovery Fund with JetBlue becoming a gold sponsor. The executive also noted that there was a competition running on their website to name their iguana. The company and the Cayman Islands government then exchanged gifts to commemorate the occasion.
Director of Tourism Shomari Scott noted that media had come down from New York to mark the occasion, as well as enjoy what the island had to offer.
“This is a day of celebration,” he said.
“It will be recorded in our history books … It is a momentous occasion for tourism and for our country.”
He added that New York City was Cayman’s top source market for visitors and Boston was No. 4. He said that the link with JetBlue would go a long way to continue the positive stayover-visitor trends.
Guests were greeted by a pair of pirates, treated to traditional Cayman dancing from youngsters and listened to steel pan music courtesy of Michael Lemay, plus a selection of Cayman cuisine.
Cayman is the 74th destination JetBlue serves. Flights operate on Monday, Thursday and Saturday to and from New York and the Boston flights are on Saturdays.