Cayman Airways has inked a deal with U.S.-based Air Lease Corp. to replace its fleet of aging jets with the next generation Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.
The new planes will come straight off the Boeing production line and into service on Cayman Airways routes between late 2018 and 2020.
Air Lease Corp. announced this week that it had won the contract to supply the planes on a long-term lease arrangement.
Cayman’s national carrier will be retiring its Boeing 737-300 planes, which are between 15 and 20 years old, over the next few years. Tourism and airline officials say the new planes could open up new routes, potentially including direct service from the West Coast of the U.S. They claim the planes’ added fuel efficiency will help offset the costs.
In addition to leasing the four new aircraft, which will operate on all Cayman Airways international routes, the airline will also lease an earlier model Boeing 737-800 from Air Lease Corp. as an interim measure to replace the oldest of its current jets later this year.
That plane will be replaced with the newer aircraft when it becomes available two years later, according to a press release from the leasing company this week.
“Cayman Airways is the national flag carrier for the Cayman Islands, and we at ALC are pleased with being selected by the airline, after an open tendering process, to expand and modernize their jet fleet. The new technologies in the MAX 8 aircraft will bring a new level of efficiency and passenger comfort to Cayman Airways that will greatly enhance the airline’s competitive capabilities,” said Steven Udvar-Házy, executive chairman of Air Lease Corp.
Airline and tourism officials claimed the new leasing arrangement would essentially pay for itself and would not require any increase in government’s contributions to Cayman Airways.
Fabian Whorms, CEO of Cayman Airways, said earlier this year that the aircraft had been selected as the best option because of its superior fuel efficiency, lower operational costs and greater passenger capacity.
Cayman Airways Board Chairman Philip Rankin said the deal represents a “monumental step” forward for the airline.
“The technological advancements and passenger comfort features inherent with Boeing 737-8 MAX aircraft are key to the Cayman Airways’ fleet modernization program,” Mr. Rankin said in a statement this week.
He added that the new planes would help improve reliability and customer service.
Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said the new aircraft could open up new direct routes, which were not achievable with the old jets.
“This is a milestone in the history of Cayman Airways and the Cayman Islands. The national airline is a fundamental part of our tourism industry and a huge part of our islands’ social fabric. The new aircraft will not only enhance our service levels, but will create new gateway possibilities from which the Cayman Islands tourism industry can benefit, such as the U.S. West Coast.”