Minister of Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan said, from 9 Sept., when Cayman has a soft reopening of its borders for commercial flights, British Airways plans to resume its “regular flight schedule” between London and Grand Cayman.
Speaking at a Cayman Islands Tourism Association meeting on Thursday afternoon, Bryan said that due to growing demand, the airline would be putting on more flights.
Following Cayman’s border closure, BA flights between Heathrow and Owen Roberts International Airport had been reduced to repatriation flights operating once every two weeks, though an additional flight was added in both July and August. Flights between the UK and Cayman have regularly sold out.
BA and Cayman Airways are the only airlines that are allowed to fly into Cayman at the moment. From 9 Sept., under the reopening plan, other airlines will be given permission to land here.
“This will lead to a small growth in tourism numbers,” Bryan said. “This soft reopening can be used as a test period to iron out any necessary kinks in Phase 4”, which starts 14 Oct., when travellers with securely verified vaccinations will no longer be required to quarantine upon arrival.
Bryan said there have been discussions with a number of the airlines that had been operating Cayman Islands routes before the pandemic.
Those airlines had indicated that from 9 Sept. they did not intend immediately to return to their same rate of flights that they had before the border closure, because they did not expect a high uptake from customers as the five-day quarantine requirement for securely verified vaccinated travellers would remain in place until 14 Oct.
Bryan said that, at a recent meeting at which airlines, including Jet Blue, American Airlines, Delta and British Airways, were represented, the government had asked if there was anything it could do to help facilitate a return to normal operations and were told that the airlines would react to market demands.
As part of Cayman’s reopening plan, 9 Sept. is earmarked as the ‘Phase 3’ date from when a limited number of tourists will be welcomed back to the island on commercial flights.
Bryan said some of the airlines had indicated that they may use the five-week period between Phases 3 and 4 to operate a very limited number of flights, perhaps just one or two, “to give themselves a chance to iron out the kinks as well”. During that period, he said, it was likely that Cayman would only have 5% to 10% of the number of passengers it would have seen at the same time in previous years.
He added that American Airlines did not plan to put on any flights to Cayman until October.
Asked if there were any plans for air-bridge flights to accommodate the anticipated numbers of tourism industry workers from places like India or the Philippines to return to or come to Cayman, Bryan said the additional BA Heathrow flights would address that need.
He added that Cayman Airways was already operating regular flights to Jamaica, so workers coming from there could avail of those.
In addition, he said there were indications that flights to and from Canada would return to a level of normalcy.
Bryan said he had met with the Cayman Islands Airports Authority and the Cayman Islands Airport Operators Committee to discuss preparations for the soft reopening, and a task force had been set up to deal with the reintroduction of commercial flights in the Open Skies agreement with airlines.
The Compass has reached out to British Airways to request a schedule of flights from 9 Sept. and will update this story once the information has been received. Check back as well for more details on flight schedules from other airlines.