Two evacuation flights scheduled to leave Cayman for Managua, Nicaragua, on Saturday have been cancelled, Cayman Airways announced Friday, attributing the changes to the sudden closure of Nicaragua’s borders.

The cancellations leave nearly 160 people, who had been booked for the flights, stranded in the Cayman Islands.

“The Cayman Islands Government has informed Cayman Airways that the Nicaraguan Government closed its borders indefinitely as of today, and as a result, the repatriation flights scheduled to depart Grand Cayman for Managua this Saturday, April 18, 2020, have been cancelled,” the airline wrote.

The cancellations affected flight KX3070, which had been scheduled to depart Grand Cayman at 8:30am Saturday, and flight KX3072, which had been scheduled to depart Grand Cayman at 1:50pm Saturday.

Governor Martyn Roper confirmed that the flights to Nicaragua were cancelled during Friday’s COVID-19 press briefing.

“The Nicaraguan government has this morning closed their borders and said it will not be accepting back any citizens of Nicaragua or anywhere else,” the governor said.

Roper said he had personally appealed to the Nicaraguan foreign minister to allow the flight to land, but this approach had not succeeded.

“They have taken that decision because they believe that is what they need to do to protect their country at this time,” he said.

A press statement from the governor later indicated that the Nicaraguan government would reconsider opening its borders once the global crisis has eased.

Describing the forced cancellations as “incredibly disappointing”, Roper added, “I appreciate that many people who booked on those flights may now find themselves stuck on Island without accommodation and funds.”

The statement said non-Caymanians stranded on island who need assistance, such as food vouchers, can call 244-8000 or email [email protected]

Cayman Airways indicated that it was contacting affected passengers, who will receive a refund for their tickets. For more information, call 949-2311.

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