Cayman Airways will receive another $7 million in government funding to cover its expenditures until the end of 2021.
The airline’s funding requirements have already factored in the future sale of its two Boeing 737-300 planes, as well as compensation received from the manufacturer for the grounding of the new Boeing 737-Max 8 aircraft.
Cayman Airways CEO Fabian Whorms told Finance Committee in Parliament on Monday that the issues related to receiving compensation for hardships faced by the airline during the grounding of the new planes have “all been resolved to our satisfaction”.
Without specifying an amount, he said, “I would venture to say that we have done well, as far as we know, comparatively speaking against other airlines, in terms of what we received for compensation.”
He added that Cayman Airways had also received “adequate compensation” for a second grounding period even though the aircraft were not yet put in service.
The airline has until October to dispose of its old but airworthy Boeing 737-300s because that is when significant maintenance will be due on the two aircraft.
The plan is to invite bids on the two airframes (mechanical structure of an aircraft) and five engines in a public tender.
The sale proceeds, together with the $7 million in additional government funds, will be necessary to get the airline to the end of the year, Whorms said.
Waiting list for essential travel
Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan confirmed that the airline has a waiting list of 800 people wishing to make flight reservations, but government currently only allows essential travel for emergency situations.
These only include travel to access overseas education or medical assistance.
“The circumstances are dire as in that we have a long list of persons who have requested to have flights available. The unfortunate situation is that persons have not detailed what the reasons for their flight reservations are,” Bryan said.
The minister said government had approved two flights to Florida and instructed Cayman Airways to go through the waiting list to determine who falls into the essential travel category for education and medical purposes.
“If we find more than the amount for two flights to go out, then we will add more flights,” he said, and encouraged anyone without a reservation who needs to leave the islands for education or medical assistance to contact Cayman Airways to determine the demand for any potential extra flights.
Moses Kirkconnell, MP for Cayman Brac West and former tourism minister, asked Bryan to consider opening the travel categories for business purposes, which are not currently deemed essential.
Bryan said the government recognises the need for business to continue but also has to balance the necessary resources.
If the number of people leaving is not matched by those returning, the half-empty return flights would lead to a loss for the airline.
He also noted that under government’s reopening plan, the Open Skies agreements will be in effect from 9 Sept., which would open up access to Cayman for other airlines and reduce the pressure on Cayman Airways.