Grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max 8 jets, following fatal crashes of the model in Ethiopia and Indonesia, continues to disrupt the Cayman Airways’ flight schedule.
The airline was among the first in the world to ground the jets in March, just one week after the carrier’s second Max 8 aircraft touched down in Grand Cayman for the first time.
Five months later, a reduced fleet has left the airline struggling to fulfil its flight schedule, leaving many customers frustrated by long delays.
Flight KX793 from New York, for example, scheduled to arrive at 11:45am Monday, arrived in George Town at 4:03am Tuesday, according to www.airportia.com.
Records for the route indicate that in the past 30 days, the average delay for KX793 was 104 minutes and the flight was on time 43% of the time.
In the past week, flight KX107, scheduled to arrive from Miami at 10:05pm, has landed in Grand Cayman as late as 4:05am.
Flight KX105 out of Miami, scheduled to land at 5:45pm, arrived Sunday at 1:53am.
One customer who contacted the Compass complained about the difficulty finding taxis from Owen Roberts International Airport after late-night arrivals.
The Public Transport Unit and the Cayman Islands Airports Authority did not respond to requests for comment about addressing late-night transportation issues from the airport.
Another customer, delayed in New York for six-and-a-half hours on Tuesday, said travellers were each provided with a US$12 food voucher for the inconvenience.
A statement from the airline explained that recent disruptions have been provoked by technical problems, exacerbated by the airline’s reduced fleet of just three aircraft.
“While necessary adjustments were made to the airline’s flight schedule to operate with a reduced fleet, it has left the airline with little redundancy in the event of an aircraft being out of service,” a press statement read.
The first technical problem resulted in one plane providing limited service between Wednesday and Saturday.
“Unfortunately, despite best efforts, Cayman Airways was unable to secure a substitute jet aircraft, and, being short one plane, passengers and crew on certain flights experienced extended delays,” the airline said.
That aircraft was returned to service Saturday evening, according to the airline, after the unspecified technical problem was resolved.
A separate technical issue affected another aircraft on Monday, causing extended flight delays. The airline said the issue was resolved by Tuesday evening.
The airline added that customers were assisted through email updates via TripCase, the Cayman Airways call centre, and staff at the affected airports. In the future, the airline hopes to notify of delays through text messaging.
Cayman Airways President and CEO Fabian Whorms apologised for the problems.
“Every day, we transport up to two thousand international passengers, and the grounding of our two new 737 Max 8 aircraft has complicated our ability to do that consistently to the high service standard that we are known for,” Whorms said in a press statement.
“We are grateful for all customer feedback received, and are diligently working on improving the customer experience during such irregular operations.”
Passengers affected by delays were encouraged to email [email protected]