The Cayman Islands Airports Authority could be required to shorten the runway at Grand Cayman’s airport to meet regulatory requirements.
Extending the length of the runway at Owen Roberts International Airport in order to accommodate long-haul flights from Europe has been a long-term goal of airport chiefs for some time.
But that is not part of the current $55 million redevelopment.
Instead, the airport’s authority is now being told it may have to reduce the length of the runway to accommodate a 124 meters (400 feet) end safety area.
Albert Anderson, chief executive officer of the Airports Authority, said the authority was currently consulting with airlines to see what impact, if any, the change would have.
He said the regulation has existed for some time, but the authority had operated under a kind of “waiver.” Regulators now have told the Cayman Islands Airports Authority that it must comply with the requirement.
Mr. Anderson said the proposed changes would involve new safety markings rather than any physical removal of part of the runway. In practical terms, it would mean a 124 meter reduction to the landing and take-off area.
“We are talking to the airlines to see if there would be any impact for planes taking off,” he said. “We have had no negative feedback so far, but the process is continuing.”
Another option is to extend the runway to the west – toward Crewe Road – by 124 meters, allowing for the creation of the safety area.
Any more dramatic changes are off the table for now. Lengthening the runway to the point where Cayman could accommodate long-haul flights would potentially involve building into North Sound.
“That’s not something we are looking at for now, because we don’t have the demand for it,” Mr. Anderson said.
No one from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands responded to requests for comment Wednesday.