Airport runway may have to be shortened

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. 

The runway at Owen Roberts International Airport. - PHOTO: CHRIS COURT
The runway at Owen Roberts International Airport. – PHOTO: CHRIS COURT


  1. A good idea maybe to close the half round road entering into George Town at the end of the runway. Some times it is quite scary when you are driving underneath and a big plane is flying directly a few fee over your car.
    The straight road taking everyone down to the stop lights is a much better way of getting into George Town. Then taking the CNB roundabout we can go about our merry way.

  2. For Mr. Anderson to say, in relation to lengthening the runway "That’s not something we are looking at for now, because we don’t have the demand for it," is very shortsighted.
    Given the regional, and indeed global competition to attract visitors these islands need to be planning for the future.
    Comparing the per capita spend between cruise ship passengers and stay-over visitors makes it an easy decision.
    The Cayman Islands have never been proactive in long-term planning, but hopefully, given the massive changes that will have to be dealt with over the next few centuries the policy makers will change this trend.

  3. It should be relatively easy to lengthen the runway a few hundred feet into the North South without causing environmental damage.

    The Chinese built an enormous new airport in Hong Kong on a virtually man-made island.

    Build it and they will come.

  4. Food for thought….

    With the approved renovation of ORIA, maybe it’s time for a new (larger) location instead of attempting to cram anything more into the North Sound.
    George Town is already swamped and the inflow of visitors in Cayman will only go up.

    This would also ease the traffic issue within the capital and make space (where the current airport is located) for commercial properties/ industrial needs.

    As for the environmental impact of relocating the airport – I am not one for overdevelopment, but most of Cayman WILL eventually be developed, it may as well be something that is needed and beneficial to visitors and Caymanians.

  5. Couldn’t they "move" the half round road heading to fosters from Crewe road more towards the cricket field and extend the runway towards GT and shorten it by the north sound?