Delays, cancellations on CAL flights

A Cayman Airways flight comes in to land at Owen Roberts International Airport on Thursday. - PHOTO: TANEOS RAMSAY

Maintenance issues have been blamed for a series of delays and a handful of flight cancellations on Cayman Airways routes over the past month.

Two flights to Miami, scheduled for Thursday and Friday this week, were the latest to be canceled, while a total of 54 flights, out of 509 that operated between Dec. 18 and Jan. 18, were rescheduled or delayed by more than two hours in the past month, according to the airline.

Cayman Airways CEO Fabian Whorms said all four jets would be back in operation by Jan. 26, when travelers can expect normal service to be restored.

He said the national airline had been operating a four jet schedule with only three jets since Dec. 18.

Mr. Whorms acknowledged there had been some lengthy delays but said the airline had done everything in its power to limit inconvenience to passengers. In many cases, he said, Cayman Airways was able to adjust its schedule and notify passengers ahead of time.

Another airline was subcontracted to operate 27 flights over the Christmas period and a further five flights were canceled. “Despite our best efforts to minimally affect our valued passengers over this last month, we are very conscious of the inconveniences experienced by some of our passengers and we thank these affected passengers for their patience, understanding and continued support,” said Mr. Whorms.

“We would also like to reinforce that the safety of our operations is always our first priority and while delays and cancellations are undesirable, there will be occasional instances when a revised schedule is necessary to transport our passengers to their destinations.”

He said the flights canceled this week had relatively light loads and the airline was able to re-accommodate the affected passengers on other flights.

The issues started when one of the aircraft was not returned on schedule from its annual heavy maintenance visit at an overseas facility. The jet was due to be back in service mid-December but experienced a month-long delay because of necessary replacement parts being unavailable. Mr. Whorms said the parts had to be engineered and manufactured to special order, extending the time the aircraft was out of action “well beyond our expectations.”

That plane came back to Cayman on Tuesday, “in excellent condition,” he said. However a second jet was accidentally struck by a ground service vehicle in Tampa on Monday, putting it out of service for a week.

Mr. Whorms added. “Our expectation is that by Jan. 26, we will have our full complement of jets, which will allow us to have the operational redundancies necessary to restore the high level of on-time performance which our passengers are accustomed to.”


  1. Can someone clarify one point – are these the same aircraft CAL are proposing to buy from the leasing company? The reason I’m curious is that the CAL statement about necessary replacement parts being unavailable and having to be made to order rather confirms all the concerns expressed when the decision to buy these ageing airliners was first announced. Investing public money in aircraft that can be grounded because essential parts are no longer available off the shelf hardly sounds like a smart move to me. Boeing built over 1100 B737-300s in a 15-year production run that ended in 1999 and it seems odd that the required parts could not even be sourced from one of the part-out suppliers.

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