First fixed-wing air operator certificate issued to SEZ company

Richard Smith, director-general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands, presents the air operator certificate to YJ Zhang, president of HK Bellawings, with Charlie Kirkconnell, CEO of Cayman Enterprise City.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands has issued the first air operator certificate for fixed-wing commercial operations in the Cayman Islands’ Special Economic Zone to Cayman Bellawings.

The special economic zone company is an affiliate of Hong Kong Bellawings business jet management company, which currently operates nine aircraft on the Cayman Islands Aircraft Registry, including the Gulfstream G-200 to be operated by Cayman Bellawings under the air operator certificate.

An air operator certificate authorises an operator to carry out specified commercial air transport operations.

Two years ago, Cayman Enterprise City and the Civil Aviation Authority announced the expansion of CEC’s Cayman Maritime Services Park to enable aviation services providers to be licensed in the special economic zone.

The aim was to attract the segment of the market that caters to commercial aircraft operations, including those that require an air operator’s certificate. For the authority to grant an air operator certificate to an aircraft on the Cayman Islands Aircraft Registry, the operator must have its principal place of business in the territory.

Richard Smith, director general of the aviation authority, called it a “milestone development” for the Cayman Islands Aircraft Register.

“The strategic partnership between the Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands and Cayman Enterprise City provides key elements required for facilitating jurisdictional establishment for offshore operations, and Cayman Bellawings has demonstrated the viability of this arrangement,” he said.

“We are excited to have Cayman Bellawings operate commercially under Cayman Islands jurisdiction, and look forward to their continued growth as they serve the needs of this dynamic industry.”

In 2018, CHC Helicopter, a company that operates a search and rescue network and transports offshore oil and gas workers, became the first company in the maritime and aviation part of Cayman’s special economic zone.

Cayman Bellawings is the first fixed-wing commercial operator in the zone.

HK Bellawings is the third largest fleet operator in Hong Kong and provides a range of business aviation services, from business jet management, aircraft maintenance, travel concierge service, and aircraft acquisition service to business aviation consultancy.

YJ Zhang, president of HK Bellawings, said his company is honoured to be the first air operator certificate holder endorsed by the authority. He said Bellawings considers Cayman one of its bases in the future to help expand the diversity of the local aviation industry and bring more flight options to clients around the world.

Charlie Kirkconnell, CEO Cayman Enterprise City, said, “It is a pleasure to welcome internationally recognised jet management company, Cayman Bellawings to the Cayman Maritime and Aviation City community. We know that the Cayman Islands is a great place to live, work, and do business from, and we’re pleased to see that businesses as far away as Hong Kong agree.”

He said the growth of the aviation services industry was good news for the Cayman Islands “as we work towards diversifying our economy, attracting businesses to establish a genuine physical presence, and assist in growing the number of career opportunities for Caymanians”.

The Civil Aviation Authority and Cayman Enterprise City are jointly marketing the Cayman Islands to the aviation industry by highlighting its robust regulatory environment, neutral tax status, and sound legal and financial system.

The principal clients are aircraft owners and brokers, technology companies and startups engaged in aviation research and development, the head offices of aviation industry businesses, aircraft manufacturing and repair businesses, and businesses that provide management consultancy and other specialised services to the aviation industry.

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