Cost of Brac flights 'commercially sensitive'

Cannot be disclosed, deputy premier says

  The cost of operating new, larger Cayman Airways flights between Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac cannot be disclosed because it is considered commercially sensitive information, Cayman Islands Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell said Thursday.  

Mr. Kirkconnell made the statement in response to a parliamentary question from North Side MLA Ezzard Miller, who asked government how much it was costing, per day, to operate Embraer turboprop flights to Cayman Brac, how many “paying passengers” were required for the airline to break even on each flight, and the average number of passengers per flight since operations began.  

The deputy premier said that responding to Mr. Miller’s questions in a public forum would put Cayman Airways “at a competitive disadvantage.”  

The new flights with the larger, 30-seat Embraer aircraft, began in October 2014. The larger planes offer flight attendant service and have lavatory facilities, unlike the smaller Twin Otter aircraft, Cayman Airways Chief Executive Fabian Whorms said at the time.  

The introduction of the larger planes was expected to allow the smaller turboprops to be used for service between Little Cayman and Cayman Brac.  

No other airline in the world flies between Grand Cayman and its two smaller Sister Islands, a fact that left East End MLA Arden McLean wondering at Mr. Kirkconnell’s response to the question.  

“What is commercially sensitive … when we do not have any competition in that arena?” Mr. McLean asked.  

Mr. Kirkconnell rose to respond, but was cut off by Speaker of the House Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, who noted that under Legislative Assembly Standing Orders, the deputy premier had determined the question could not be answered in open parliament and did not have to explain himself further.  

Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush asked if Mr. Kirkconnell could brief legislators in private about the flight costs, if he did not want to discuss the matter openly. Mr. Kirkconnell said he would be willing to release a copy of the business plan for the Embraer planes.  

Mr. Bush said he also wanted information about the lease agreement for the planes.  

However, Mr. Miller declined any offer to be briefed in private by government members about the cost and passenger loads on the flights because “somebody [is] going to be accused of leaking [the information] out.”  

“I don’t want [there] to be a party of us going behind locked doors and sharing information that is to be kept confidential,” Mr. Miller said.  

Deputy Premier Kirkconnell said in October that the larger Embraer planes would increase available seats going to and from the Brac, boosting not only the local tourism product but also the island’s general economy.  

“Cayman Airways has been able to time the flights of the 30-seater to also connect with Little Cayman flights on the Twin Otter and many other international flights into and out of Grand Cayman,” Mr. Kirkconnell said.  

The Embraer 120 aircraft were initially scheduled to fly twice a day to and from Cayman Brac, except Tuesdays when they are down for routine maintenance. Additional flights will be added on heavier demand days, the airline said.  

cal.jpg

Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell, second from right, and other officials at the launch of the Embraer turboprop flights in October last year.
0
0

NO COMMENTS

  1. Isn’t it odd that Cayman Airways has the monopoly on flights to both Cayman Brac and Little Cayman from Grand Cayman? There is no competition from any other airline allowed, and yet the costs of flying this route are secretive – "commercially sensitive" – and cannot be disclosed to anyone outside the Legislative Assembly. When a hotel owned by Americans in North Carolina was shut down – closed with NO notice – 10 years ago in Cayman Brac – because of lack of appropriate airlift and consequently occupancy rates, it would be illuminating to see how much the monopoly on the flights from Grand Cayman to the Sister Islands has cost the national airline. Perhaps, if flights from competing airlines out of southern Florida cities were allowed to fly to the Brac and Little Cayman, there would be an increase in ridership of these planes. The Brazilian Embraer 120 aircraft are a step up from The German Shortts, the Fiji Trislander, but not Red Carpet, Mr. Linton Tibbetts’s first class airline. Deputy Premier and CI Gov’t Director of Tourism Moses Kirkconnell has been an excellent advocate for uplifting Cayman Brac’s economic plight. But until a sustainable company moves into the Brac to offer employment and growth opportunities to Brackers and foreigners, the Embraer flights from Grand Cayman will continue to be a "commercially sensitive" thorn in the rose of Cayman Airways.

    0

    0
  2. Isn’t this exactly the same excuse that was trotted out when the Compass asked about CAL passenger figures on the Havana route?

    CAL is a publicly-owned entity but sometimes it seems that all we know about it is how much money CIG pours into it every year to keep the operation solvent.

    Going back a few years were we ever told the full story about the purchase and conversion of Sammy’s Airport Inn or how much it all really cost? I somehow doubt it.

    0

    0
  3. What is Mr.kirkconnell covering up , and why so many flights to the Brac weekly. Is this so that the speaker of the house can have her own private plane to fly back home every day without the cost to her. Politians put your brains in gear stop wasting tax payers money

    0

    0
  4. Historically Cayman Airways has lost tens of millions of dollars a year and still operated jets to the Brac for largely political reasons. I can’t think of any other airline in the world that operates jets on a route of only 90 miles. The lesser island routes must be a major component of the airline’s annual losses but information on the subsidies for these routes has never been released. Little wonder that the Speaker cuts off any further discussion on this problem.

    0

    0
  5. The two Brac representatives can cover this up all they want, granted taxpayer in Grand Cayman cannot get to them, but don’t worry your colleagues down here will suffer. Since they allow you wanton waste as your leader says “You just might get what you want” retirement. Shame on my PPM party, this is not what we voted for.

    0

    0