The Cayman Islands Airports Authority board of director has been completely revamped, just five weeks after the People’s Progressive Movement-led government took office.
The new chairman of the board will be Kirkland Nixon, the former Cayman Islands Fire Service chief and a previous member of both the airports authority and Civil Aviation Authority boards.
Mr. Nixon said he was asked by Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell about 10 days ago to serve in the position. Mr. Nixon said he realises the airports authority has seen its share of challenges over the past year, but he believes it can be turned around.
“Once you’ve got the right team in place, you can get the job done,” Mr. Nixon said. “We’re going to try and resolve the problems.”
Mr. Kirkconnell said the next several years will be a crucial time for the airports authority. “They have the challenge to basically build three airports. … The challenges to that board are significant.”
Longtime airline pilot and former Cayman Airways chief executive Thomas Guyton has been appointed as deputy board chairman. Other members of the board include Joel Jefferson, Nathaniel Tibbetts, Stran Bodden and Bruce Smith.
Gone from the airports authority board are former chairman Richard “Dick” Arch, deputy chairman Steve McField and directors Frank Flowers, Roy Grant, Larry Bryan, Arnold Berry, Jewel Hydes and Langlie Powery.
Some major upper-level management problems have dogged the airports authority since its chief financial officer, Shelly Ware, was fired late last year and her boss, CIAA chief executive Jeremy Jackson was terminated in March amid an expenses inquiry commenced by the board of directors.
However, the expenses review was only part of the story. It was revealed later that the Cayman Islands auditor general’s office warned last year that the airports authority board had overstepped its powers creating risk that its decisions could be “conflicted or corrupt”.
Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick also warned that potential conflicts of interest, including details of their own companies’ contracts with the airport system, were not properly recorded in authority financial statements.
Former Board Chairman Dick Arch denied that the board acted beyond its legal remit in any way and said declarations of interest were made at every board meeting.
Mr. Arch’s resignation in June was “part of the process” of a new government coming into office and had nothing to do with the ongoing situation at the airports authority, Mr. Kirkconnell said.
“The new board will look at the overall operations of the CIAA, so it will be their mandate to review how it operates,” Mr. Kirkconnell said.
In addition to the Cayman Islands Airports Authority board, new members were appointed to the Cayman Airways board of directors.
The chairman, Philip Rankin, was reappointed by the Progressives-led government. Department of Tourism Director Shomari Scott was also reappointed to his position as a non-voting board member.
Mr. Kirkconnell said Mr. Rankin agreed to stay on for another six months to one year to “ensure continuity” in the airline’s operations as it embarks on a more aggressive business plan that includes direct flights into Panama, Dallas and an increased number of flights to Cuba.
“It was a sensitive time for the airline,” the deputy premier said, adding that it was likely a new chairman for the board would be selected after the transition period.
Other new Cayman Airways board members included deputy chairman Norman Bodden, as well as directors James Tibbetts, Chris Kirkconnell, Andre Ebanks, Eric Bush and Stran Bodden.