Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan has said government is working towards unlocking borders before Christmas and he was hopeful American Airlines could resume flights to Grand Cayman at that time.
However, Bryan, speaking with the Cayman Compass Friday afternoon after meeting with American Airlines officials virtually, said while the major US carrier was “excited” and ready to return to service in Grand Cayman, officials said they need at least 60 days’ notice to initiate flight resumptions.
“This would mean we would need to make an announcement within the next week or so… so they can start to prepare. We are trying our best as a government to get to that announcement,” Bryan said.
This week, American Airlines officials, in response to Compass queries, confirmed the airline had cancelled its planned December return to Grand Cayman, shifting focus to February 2022.
“Due to travel restrictions related to COVID-19, we’ve paused flights to GCM and expect to resume service in February 2022,” American Airlines senior specialist global communications Brian Metham told the Compass.
Premier Wayne Panton this week said government will give one month’s notice of its reopening plans.
Meeting went well
Bryan said he spoke to the regional representatives of the airline who said they did not want to have to cancel flights. They added they would try to restart as soon as possible once an official announcement was made.
He said he advised them that if they were unable to restart at that time, Cayman Airways stood ready to pick up some of the slack on the key routes, such between Dallas and Grand Cayman.
“We do not want to have that loss for Cayman as a destination… It was important for them to know that, not that we are trying to step on their toes,” he said.
Bryan said the relationship with American Airlines had to be positive and “not hostile” and it was important to discuss with them about Cayman Airways filling in with flights not yet reinstated by the US carrier.
“They understand, they were cool with it,” he said, adding he was encouraged that officials said they will do everything they can to restart flights within their capacity of operations.
“It is not like they do not want to be here. They have expressed that they are quite saddened to have cancelled flights. They are excited to come back as soon as they can,” he added.