Airline depends on government support

It has never made a profit and was highlighted by consultants as ripe for privatisation, but Cayman Airways continues to draw broad political support. 

Several candidates have spoken against the idea of government selling off the airline, which employs around 370 people. 

Jim Miller, the former chairman of the Miller-Shaw commission on government finances, repeated his suggestion that the airline should be privatised earlier this month. 

“I don’t see any reason for Cayman to have an airline. It should be privatised,” he said at the Cayman Financial Review Speaker series 

Mr. Miller said that while he had no right to expect government to follow the suggestions of his 2010 report he was nonetheless disappointed by the lack of implementation. 

In fact government’s investment in Cayman Airways has increased since 2010. Around $23 million a year is now pumped in government subsidies to enable it to operate domestic and international routes. 

That figure has steadily increased over the years. 

The 2009 revenue from Cabinet was $10.5 million, increased the following year to $15 million, a nearly 33 per cent growth, providing not only the airline’s annual operating budget, but also the resources to address its informal debts.  

Government also agreed to an additional annual $5.1 million “equity injection” for 10 years to help repay the airline’s formal historical debt, bank borrowings of $33 million.  

In the 2012/13 budget, government boosted revenues from Cabinet to $18.1 million, alongside the $5.1 million equity injection.  

The most recent publicly available financial statements, for 2010-2011, recorded a loss, even after government grants of around $5 million. The financial statements list an accumulated deficit of just under $138 million for the airline. 

The notes to the statements explain the relationship between government and the airline. 

“Currently and historically the company has been dependent on the financial support of government to allow it 
to continue as a going concern. 

“The government has undertaken to provide financial support to the company to enable it to meet its liabilities as they fall due and to enable the company to continue to operate certain domestic and international routes.” 

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