Cayman Airways is seeking to lease a second Saab prop plane to operate on the commuter route between Grand Cayman and the Brac.
The airline has put out a request for proposals for another aircraft, initially as backup for the existing 34-seat plane, which has been damaged twice since coming into service late last year.
It is hoped that the second plane will be in service by October, when the Saab 340 B Plus aircraft that currently operates on the route goes off island for scheduled maintenance.
The plan is the latest upgrade to Cayman Airways’ fleet, which is undergoing a major overhaul. All four jets operating on the airline’s international routes will be replaced with new state-of-the-art aircraft over the next four years.
Cayman Airways CEO Fabian Whorms said the addition of a second prop plane on the Brac route would add a level of redundancy that would improve overall reliability.
He said, “As it is impractical to expect no or minimal service disruptions when operating only one aircraft, acquiring a second aircraft will allow Cayman Airways Express to achieve and maintain the highest levels of reliability, without the need to contract in any temporary service providers whenever we have an aircraft out of service.”
The previous 14-seat Twin Otter planes were phased out on the Brac route in late 2014, initially replaced by a 30-seat Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia, leased along with its crew on a temporary arrangement with Turks and Caicos-based InterCaribbean Airways.
That aircraft was replaced with the Saab, once the training and certification process for CAL staff had been completed.
Mr. Whorms added, “After successfully equipping and certifying the airline last year to operate our existing Saab 340 B Plus aircraft, the work necessary to introduce a second aircraft of this type into the fleet is minimal and will lead to a more efficient, robust and reliable operation, which we are sure our passengers will greatly appreciate.”
He said the operating expenses were largely related to flying time and would not be hugely increased by the addition of the second aircraft.
Speaking at an event last year to welcome the new Saab aircraft to the fleet, Philip Rankin, chairman of the airline’s board of directors, said that CAL was hoping to add a second plane saying it could increase the airline’s options for smaller regional flights to Jamaica and Cuba.
Mr. Whorms said that was unlikely to happen this year but the airline is exploring regional options and opportunities for next year.”