Thomas Guyton

Former pilot Thomas Guyton, who served as Cayman Airways’ acting chief executive for a brief time, will now sit in the captain’s chair of the Cayman Islands Airports Authority board.

Mr. Guyton was appointed to lead the government-appointed board by order of Cabinet on July 5. Board member Joel Jefferson was promoted to replace Mr. Guyton as deputy chairman.

The former pilot and airline chief executive, who has been involved with the local airports in some form since 1978, will take over the chairmanship held by Kirkland Nixon between mid-2013 and April 30, 2018 – when Mr. Nixon unexpectedly died following illness.

“Cabinet would like to acknowledge the sterling contribution of Mr. Kirkland Nixon to the success of the Cayman Islands Airports Authority,” the note announcing the board changes read.

Mr. Nixon long served as Cayman’s chief fire officer, but his passing will not leave the airports authority board without firefighting expertise. Former fire chief Roy Grant will also continue on as a board member following his reappointment.

Mr. Guyton’s appointment as chairman is for four years. Mr. Jefferson will serve as his deputy for a three-year period. Mr. Grant will also serve a three-year term. All three board terms began on Monday.

Mr. Guyton said he would not look to replace Mr. Nixon, but would seek to “carry on his legacy” at the airport.

“You can’t fill those shoes,” he said. “He was a great mentor to all of us, but we have a good team and we have some good momentum.

“It’s not just about the airport expansion, we’re working on a 20-year master plan. We have to keep that fresh and improve the airport.”

The new chairman takes over at a particularly busy time for the authority which is in progress on a massive upgrade to the Owen Roberts International Airport, revamping both its arrivals and departures areas, as well as the outside pathways to and from the parking lot.

Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell has said work on the expansion would be completed on time – meaning by the end of this year – but the facility’s original $55 million proposed budget has already seen some cost overruns, according to information obtained by the Cayman Compass.

Officials have declined to release the final cost of the project until 2019, after it is expected to be completed.

Airport managers have worked out a compromise on concessions contract negotiations which had threatened to delay the completion of the departures terminal.

Although it’s still not clear how the concessions matter was ultimately resolved, a number of successful bidders contacted by the Compass in June indicated they had been awarded contracts and that there would not need to be another request for bids sent out for those contracts, as was first feared.

Airport officials have still never provided a full list of concessions contractors since the Compass reported the names of some of the successful bidders in June.