UPDATE: Cayman’s airport offers shelter from, staging area for Hurricane Irma

In October 2016, U.S. military helicopters used Grand Cayman's airport as a staging area for relief operations in Haiti following Hurricane Matthew. - Photo: Taneos Ramsay

***Update: 4:30 p.m., Friday: Cayman airport officials now say they are not certain whether the U.S. military aircraft will arrive until after this weekend.***

With Hurricane Irma skirting the Western Caribbean and arcing towards Florida, Owen Roberts International Airport has found itself in the position of assisting other at-risk facilities.

Cayman Islands Airport Authority officials confirmed that two MD-87 aircraft from World Atlantic Airlines arrived from Florida on Thursday and will ride out the storm in Cayman.

Officials are expecting two Convair Cargo planes and five smaller cargo aircraft from Miami, as well as two Beech 1900 aircraft from Nassau in the Bahamas. The CIAA has granted approval for United States military transport aircraft based in Guantanamo to seek refuge here, but their arrival time is uncertain.

The U.S. Marines have also requested and received permission to use Cayman as a staging area for their response forces from Honduras. Three Sea Stallion helicopters and three UH-6-0 Blackhawks as well as a U.S. Air National Guard C130 disaster response team are expected to land at Owen Roberts at some point on Friday, but their arrival will not affect the regularly scheduled services of the airport.

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