British Airways will start flying its newer Boeing 777-200 jets into Grand Cayman from July.
The larger planes, which will continue to be routed through the Bahamas, mean a slight increase in airlift from the U.K. into the islands.
Work to strengthen the runway, which airport officials have always said will be required to allow the Owen Roberts International Airport to accommodate the planes, is not expected to be complete by July.
Albert Anderson, CEO of the Cayman Islands Airports Authority, said the work is scheduled for later in the year.
“It is not going to prevent them coming in,” he said.
Mr. Anderson said engineering reports indicated that the runway could handle the aircraft in the short term, though some reinforcement work would ultimately be required.
He said a request for proposals on the design work was about to be issued.
The work, and British Airways’ decision to replace the Boeing 767-300s with the 777s, will not impact the airline’s ability to fly direct to Grand Cayman. An extended runway would still be required for a plane of that size to take off from Grand Cayman with a full load of passengers and fuel.
Currently, BA planes add fuel and passengers at the Lynden Pindling International Airport in Nassau before continuing on to London Heathrow.
There are no current plans to extend the runway.
British Airways described the switch to Boeing 777 jets as a boost to its service in Cayman that could increase tourism from Europe.
Diane Corrie, the airline’s commercial manager for the Caribbean, said, “The larger aircraft will be especially welcomed by the business communities on both islands, including executives of the banking and finance sector, insurance companies and law firms and residents of Cayman who travel frequently to London and beyond on British Airways.
“There will be increased capacity, especially in the premium cabins, and this will also help to boost visitor arrivals from the U.K. and Europe.”
The 777 aircraft will offer a choice of three cabins – Club World, World Traveller Plus and World Traveller, and will continue to operate four times a week.