Bryan: 5 airlines confirm readiness to return to Cayman

Owen Roberts International Airport

American, United, Southwest and Delta airlines, as well as British Airways which already operates repatriation flights, have applied to fly commercial routes to and from the Cayman Islands from October, according to Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan.

WestJet, which before the pandemic was operating flights into and out of Cayman, has not yet applied for permission to put flights on, he said.

Under Cayman’s border-reopening plan, from 14 Oct., quarantine will be lifted for securely verified vaccinated travellers, who currently must undergo five days of isolation, if the islands reach the target of vaccinating 80% of the population.

 

Bryan, speaking on Radio Cayman’s ‘For the Record’ show on Monday morning, said Cayman Airways will be putting on additional flights from 9 Sept., when a limited number of tourists will be allowed back on island.

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“There will be an increase in [Cayman Airways flight] numbers. We’re going through the approvals now,” he said, but added that because of storms Grace and Ida, the approval process had been delayed by about a week and a half.

“One of the benefits of the reluctance of other airlines [to operate flights here] until October is there will be that one-month period where Cayman Airways can offer flights to other jurisdictions,” he said. “Obviously, it comes with some limitations; you need approvals and the like to go into other gateways that [Cayman Airways] don’t normally go into. But there will be an increased level of flights from Cayman Airways through that period, and that will kind of flatline back out in October when the regular competition comes with other airlines.”

The Cayman Islands government is allowing commercial routes to and from Cayman to restart from 9 Sept. However, most of the airlines that are planning to return here have indicated they will not operate their routes until the next phase of reopening, scheduled for 14 Oct.

Looking forward to the full reopening of the airport, Bryan also said a new slot management system would be put in place for the returning airlines, in a bid to prevent the congestion and delays seen at Owen Roberts International Airport in previous years.

He said the Cayman Islands Airports Authority plans to operate an alternative to the “ad hoc slot management system” that had been in place in the past.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic decimated Cayman’s tourism industry, the islands had been experiencing record numbers of tourists arriving here. In 2019, 502,739 people arrived by air, an increase of 8.6% over 2018.

‘Plan not set in stone’

The tourism minster said Cayman’s reopening dates were “not set in stone”, explaining, “We have to monitor other jurisdictions and what they’re doing. We also have to monitor the virus itself and how it mutates. We also have to watch our number one tourism feeder, the United States,” he said.

Bryan noted that there had been recent upticks in COVID-19 numbers in some states in the US from which the majority of Cayman’s tourists originate, including Florida and Texas.

Addressing what the government would do if Cayman did not reach the 80% vaccination target by 14 Oct., the minister said a decision would be made closer to that date.

“We are optimistic we will get the highest possible number [of vaccinations] we can. We hope our society will make informed decisions to do the right thing,” he said, noting that getting vaccinated and suffering potential side-effects was a better choice than not getting vaccinated and possibly dying from the virus.

The government will make a final decision on whether the 14 Oct. reopening date will go ahead as planned, if the 80% has not been reached, at the end of September or the beginning of October, Premier Wayne Panton announced last week.

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23 COMMENTS

  1. What about Air Canada departing from Toronto, Ontario? Ontario, was the most locked down jurisdiction in North America during the height of the pandemic and now has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, yet it never gets a mention in your articles about Cayman’s planned reopening. Air Canada is Canada’s largest air carrier and makes vaccinations mandatory for its employees. Does West Jet? Please don’t forget your friends from Ontario, Canada when phasing in your long awaited reopening. Thank you!

  2. Key points:

    1. “…securely verified travelers…”

    2. “…if the islands reach the target of vaccinating 80% of the population.”

    3. “ …most of the airlines that are planning to return here have indicated they will not operate their routes until the next phase of reopening, scheduled for 14 Oct.”

    4. “ …reopening dates were “not set in stone…”

    5. “ The government will make a final decision on whether the 14 Oct. reopening date will go ahead as planned, if the 80% has not been reached, at the end of September or the beginning of October…”

    In my opinion (which realise counts for nothing) all of the above point to not reopening in October.

    1. Securely verifiable vaccine proof is not widely available in the US

    2. 80% is elusive at best

    3. I suspect those airlines may schedule flights but said flights will be canceled when the seats are not filled.

    4. With dates not set in stone there is more reason for putting off being vaccinated.

    5. Numbers 4 and 5 are the most significant. These two statements provide the wiggle room to change the plan again. People will not book trips if they are concerned they will have to cancel or reschedule.

    And one last thing-Florida and Texas will never have a digital vaccine registry and unless vaccines were received in those states after the SMART Health Card was put in action at CVS, Walmart & Sams then the “majority of Cayman’s tourists” won’t be allowed to return until all entry restrictions are removed.

  3. In the past 2 days it is reported that 9 travelers tested COVID positive. Assume 1/3 were vaccinated, then if this was October 15 those 3 travelers would be walking freely around our community spreading COVID. If the government sticks with this re-opening plan then within 2 weeks there will be 21 people spreading COVID in our community. It is almost 100% guaranteed that by Nov 1 our first Caymanian/resident will be in the hospital due to COVID, we will then all have to wear masks everywhere, no more gatherings, no more sports and many other restrictions will have to be imposed. By Dec. 1 our first Caymanian/resident will die from COVID, and by Christmas we will be locked down again, killing the local economy…again. All to chase tourist dollars. Will it be worth it?

    Just look at what happened elsewhere such as Israel and the Seychelle Islands – 2 countries with high vaccine rates, and COVID is now spreading rapidly in those countries. If we remove quarantine there is no doubt people here will get sick, people will die and we will go back into lockdown.

  4. Today’s (2nd of September) caymancompass.com has dashboard of Cayman Vaccination Tracker now showing 1st vaccinations at 51,628 partially-vaccinated and 2nd vaccinations for total of 49,518 fully-vaccinated. Based on Cayman Compass 27th of August article “Population Decline and Pandemic Impact Social Statistics” the calculation of percentages assumes a population number that’s at least 4,000 too high.
    Based on updated population by ESO, CI’s fully-vaccinated coverage is currently about 74% (only 3 other countries are higher) and CI’s partially-vaccinated is about 77% which likely becomes the fully-vaccinated percentage in a couple weeks.

    Is “not set in stone” another poor choice of words? Last week Premier announced Phase 4 to start as planned on 14th of October when risk of covid (including death) jumps for unvaccinated and, if become infected, infecting others. Unvaccinated have ONLY A HANDFUL OF DAYS to get their first vaccination to be fully vaccinated before then.

  5. My husband and I have each had 2 Moderna shots and a booster Moderna shot. We live in a retirement home and only have a paper card with each vaccine noted by date and official number of the serum administered.for each shot. The first 2 shots were administered by Walgreens as they had the contract with our residence. We went to CVS for the Booster which was added to our card.
    How do we get the type of proof that Cayman requires? We hope to be in Cayman for a week at Christmas with our children and grandchildren who all have had their 2 shots. Please help with my inquiry. Thank you.

    • Gerald – I honestly don’t think CIG will ever accept the CVC CDC card as securely verifiable proof of vaccination. They will require some sort of digital verification and they will likely continue to be very specific about which forms of digital proof they will accept.

      CIG needs to consider what happens if you go for a booster and it is entered in the SMART Health Card system. Will that be enough proof to enter Cayman if the card does not show your first two vaccinations? You had to have received them in order to get a booster, you would prove you had the first two vaccinations by showing your CDC Vaccine card before being given the booster but would showing a single booster in the SMART Health System be enough for CIG?

      My point in all of this is you would likely be better off planing a trip elsewhere in 2021. Maybe Cayman will be open to all in 2022 but it seems the reopening plan is “not set in stone” thus it is likely to change at any moment.

  6. There can be no realistic prospect of return for most US travelers until the CIG defines “securely verified vaccinated travelers”. Most US vaccinated travelers will not be on any central registry. I for one am not willing to quarantine. So someone like me, fully vaccinated and soon to receive a booster – does what? This should be a question that CIG can answer clearly while those of us hoping to return as soon as possible wait for the vaccinated total in Cayman to reach 80%. John E.

  7. Ah the good old “securely verified” canard. It’s just an excuse to keep tourists out. It’s laughable to think that anyone would fake a vaccination card to go on a super expensive island vacation and everyone with a brain knows it. All of these flights are going to get cancelled.

    • Dan K you nailed it. Let’s penalize 99% of the tourists who want to come here based on a far-fetched scenario where someone who doesn’t want to get vaccinated FAKES a vaccine card to travel 1,000 miles away and spend $4,000! Do they even pay attention to the Americans who travel to Cayman? This isn’t Joe-Sixpack or welfare frauds or any other scandalous people. The people who come to Cayman are all successful, law abiding folks. The other folks always have picked other islands! No overnight cruise ships, no out of control partying, weed, etc. – The Cayman Islands already run a tight ship. The type of people they are worried about, if they even exist, never even consider going to Cayman!

      This is a toally made up fear for a population that doesn’t exist – wealthy criminal anti-vax Americans dying to travel to Cayman.

      Time to move on.

      One last thing – we can stop pointing to the one or two examples of islands that had to backtract when almost every other island has REMAINED open with very few problems.

  8. Happy to see most people on here being fed up with the never ending lockdown. The government should reopen as most people in Cayman have family and children who are not on the island and while its a noble cause to avoid the spread of a virus, at this point the cure is doing more damage than the disease. How much more are people going to sacrifice? What if this virus will around 2 more years? Will we be closed for half a decade?

  9. According to Sky News 1 in 75 people in the UK currently have coronavirus. The situation is worse in anti mask Florida and Texas.
    According to peer reviewed research vaccinated people can carry the predominant Delta variant to almost the same level as the unvaccinated. They are not as likely to get very sick but can transmit it.
    We also have not seen our families for almost 2 years. We would love it to be easy and quarantine free for them to travel here.

    But make no mistake, it has been our stringent quarantine rules that have kept us all mask free and safe.

  10. There are other secure-verified vaccination systems other that the smart health card. Clear uses facial recognition and a direct link to your provider to generate a verification. This is very similar to the smart health card but expands the number of providers that can participate