Cayman Airways reshuffles schedule to limit delays

Brac-Holguin flight dropped after three months

Cayman Airways has canceled its Cayman Brac-Holguin route, which it launched in November last year.

Cayman Airways has canceled its flight from Cayman Brac to the eastern Cuban city of Holguin, just three months after the route was launched.

The switch is part of a reshuffle of the airline’s Cuba routes in an effort to improve “schedule reliability” following issues with delays and flight cancellations.

Twice-weekly overnight flights from Grand Cayman to Havana have been dropped.
As a result, says Cayman Airways CEO Fabian Whorms, the Holguin service, which launched Nov. 28 last year, will be replaced with a Brac-Havana flight.

“To partially offset the reduced capacity on the Havana route, the airline took the decision to suspend its Saturday service from Cayman Brac to Holguin and instead use that aircraft to operate Saturday service between Cayman Brac and Havana,” he said.

It is hoped that dropping the overnight flights between Owen Roberts International Airport and Havana will help ease delays. Cayman Airways operates a busy schedule with just four jets, and issues with delays often arise when one or more of those jets is out of service.

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 because of the impact of jets being out of service, the Cayman Compass reported in January.

In a statement this week, CAL said the changes to the Cuba flights would improve its overall operational reliability and save overnight costs in Havana, which have increased significantly recently.

Mr. Whorms said the decision to suspend the Holguin flight had not been taken lightly, but was necessary for the airline’s overall operational needs.

He said the route is still in the developmental stage but has shown signs of being a success.

The last flight to Holguin departs March 26, with the Havana Service expected to begin April 2.

“Cayman Airways introduced additional frequency to Cuba on Saturdays in November 2015 to test the city of Holguin as a new gateway, on the premise that many of CAL’s passengers traveling to and from Cuba have origin and destination points in the eastern provinces of Cuba,” said Mr. Whorms.

“This new service on Saturdays was a good fit as it took advantage of the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport in Cayman Brac now being able to be utilized as an in transit point, thereby not placing any additional burden on the Owen Roberts International Airport at its busiest time of the week.

“At the same time, the new service allowed Cayman Brac to have non-stop service to and from Miami on a Saturday at a time of day which would enhance the tourism airlift available to and from Cayman Brac. The change in service from Holguin to Havana still maintains the principle of using Cayman Brac to ease congestion at the Owen Roberts International Airport and allows Cayman Airways to meet its passenger needs.”



  1. Before the Hoguin flight was initiated, person would fly into Havana and then travel by VIA AZUL to the other destinations, including Holguin. Fantastic trip with much to see.
    I am sure Mr Whorms and his officers paid good attention and made the best choice in their decisions.
    Many Caymanians travel often to Cuba and have family there. I believe that once the fare is kept reasonable, the airline will not loose but will even have passengers from other destinations like USA travelling through Cayman once they find it cheaper. This is something I believe the Airlines could look into and do much advertising. I support Cayman Airways.

  2. Sadly, however Mr Whorms phrases it this is just trying to paper over the cracks again. Whatever spin he tries to put on this having over one in ten flights running more than two hours late is unacceptable, particularly during what is normally one of the busiest and most profitable periods of the year for the airline industry.

    The fact is that CAL operate an aging, uneconomic fleet of 737s that are becoming increasing difficult to maintain and these issues are only going to get worse. Sooner or later CIG have to face up to the fact that this simply isn’t a viable operation. At that point they will either have to find the funding to re-equip CAL or cut their losses, downsize and use code-sharing agreements with major carriers to keep the routes to the USA flying.

    Pretty much anywhere else in the world the economic realities of airline operations would have kicked in years ago and CAL would have been rationalised, downsized or shut down completely. Part of the problem is that CAL try to be all things to all people without the necessary resources. A 737 may be fine on long routes like Boston and New York but does it really work on the shorter flights to Jamaica, Cuba and Honduras or could something like a 70-80 seat turboprop do the job just as well and a lot cheaper? Does CAL even need to fly into the USA or would it make more sense to code-share these services with the other airlines serving the same routes?

    To quote today’s editorial, “Every dollar that is given to someone who does not really need it, is a dollar that could have been given to someone who does.” You could equally apply that to the $millions handed over every year to CAL because at the end of the day the only people who seem to benefit from all this public money are airline employees and all those lucky people who quality for cut price and complimentary air travel.

  3. Mr Whorms,
    you need to read these two press stories –
    American Airlines has filed its applications for the reinstatement of routes from the US to Cuba, with proposals to serve Havana from Miami, Charlotte, Dallas Fort Worth, Los Angeles and Chicago.
    The US carrier joins rival United in filing applications for Cuban services following the agreement to restore commercial air services between the two countries last month.
    AA plans to operate ten daily services between Miami and Havana, as well as daily flights to the Cuban capital from Charlotte and Dallas Fort Worth, and weekly services from Los Angeles and Chicago.
    In addition the carrier is proposing to launch flights from Miami to five other Cuban destinations – namely Santa Clara (twice daily), Holguin (twice daily), Varadero (twice daily), Camaguey (daily) and Cienfuegos (daily).
    In a statement AA’s chairman and CEO Doug Parker said that the carrier was “the undisputed leader in serving the people and businesses of Miami-Dade County, which is the heart and soul of the Cuban-American community and home to nearly 50 percent of the Cuban-American population in the United States”.
    Parker added that “American’s proposed service – from Miami and four other hubs – will provide a strong foundation for the sustained future growth of commercial and cultural ties between the US and Cuba”.

    United has confirmed its plans to reinstate flights between the US and Cuba, with applications filed to offer non-stop routes from New York Newark, Houston, Washington and Chicago to Havana.
    If successful the plans would see United offer eight flights per week from Newark to Havana, as well as weekly Saturday services from Houston, Washington Dulles and Chicago.
    The flights would be served by B737-800 aircraft, configured for 16 seats in United First, 90 United Economy seats, and 48 United Economy Plus seats with extra legroom.
    To support its application United has launched a dedicated website
    The US and Cuba officially signed an agreement to restore commercial air services between the two countries last month.
    Commenting on the news Oscar Munoz, United’s president and CEO said:
    “This is a historic moment for our company, our employees and, most importantly, our customers. We want to be the first choice for passengers travelling between the US and Cuba.
    “We’re able to offer customers the best access, convenience and connections to and from Havana through our industry-leading global route network and we’re excited to compete for this important service.”

    Accept it – in a few months time CAL’s Cuba services are going to be, like most of the routes into the USA already are, a complete waste of time and money.


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