UPDATED: The inaugural landing of Southwest Airlines’ daily service to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is June 4.
ORIGINAL: Southwest Airlines will open up a new route between Fort Lauderdale and Grand Cayman this summer.
The airline announced plans this week to add the island to its growing route schedule. Subject to regulatory approval the flight will be a daily service.
Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said the addition of a major new airline, flying from a new hub, would provide another economic boost for the islands’ tourism industry. He said the decision by Southwest followed a two-year “engagement process” involving the Department of Tourism and the Cayman Islands Airports Authority.
“Welcoming this award winning airline into our destination will help to bring even more visitors to experience Caymankind and compelling product offerings that differentiate us from our competitors and will support the continued growth of our sector,” he said.
The service will begin in June.
Mr. Kirkconnell said Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program, regarded as one of the best airline rewards programs in the U.S., would open up Cayman to a whole new customer base.
“The opportunity for the Cayman Islands is the strength in Southwest’s brand loyalty program and the new clients that will now consider our destination.” Though tourism officials are looking to expand Cayman’s reach into central and South America, the U.S. remains the main source market for the island, contributing 78 percent of the islands’ visitors in 2016.
“Now our guests will have an option out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, via Southwest Airlines,” Mr. Kirkconnell said.
“The U.S. market continues to demonstrate that incremental business development is possible by engaging in strategic alliances and business relationships.”
Director of Tourism Rosa Harris added, “This new partnership is the culmination of many meetings with the airline representatives and government agencies to make it possible. We are very excited to have gained this successful partnership with Southwest Airlines that will further strengthen the ease of travel to our destination and encourage additional growth in visitation.”
Southwest Airlines, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, announced plans for the route, along with a new service for Cincinatti, Ohio, in a press statement Thursday.
It stated, “The carrier today filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation to serve Owen Roberts International Airport on Grand Cayman daily from Fort Lauderdale beginning June 4.”