In what has been described as a ‘mutually beneficial arrangement’, Cayman Airways will be adding Barbados to its growing list of destinations from later this year.
Following negotiations between the Barbados government and tourism officials and the Cayman Islands authorities led by Hon. Minister to Tourism Kenneth Bryan, the Cayman-Barbados route is expected to be launched in October offering two flights per week.
Speaking in a joint video press conference with his Barbados counterpart, Ian Gooding-Edghill, Min Bryan described the latest addition to Cayman Airways routes as a game changer.
“This new service to Barbados is a game-changer for regional connectivity. It will deliver a faster and cheaper alternative for travelling between the Cayman Islands and Barbados than any other currently existing routes on the market.”
This is the first time that a scheduled service is being offered to a destination in the Eastern Caribbean as a part of the strategy to expand connectivity to the north, south, east and west.”
According to Mr Bryan, the vision is to expand Cayman Airways’ connectivity to key locations situated to the north, south, east and west of the Cayman Islands.
The Barbados connection is expected to reduce flying times and costs between the two destinations without having to intransit via Miami, and provide connectivity to other islands in the Eastern Caribbean.
A key strategy is also to provide easier links to both Cayman and Barbados via a second Cayman Airways schedule being added to the Los Angeles route.
“From a strategic standpoint, the Cayman-Barbados route will deliver several key benefits that will help to improve our competitive advantage. For example, this will allow visitors from several currently underserved European markets such as Germany and Finland to access the Cayman Islands more directly,” Mr Bryan explained.
For Barbados, the benefits are substantial, said the country’s Minister for Tourism and International Transport Ian Gooding-Edgehill.
“This agreement with the Cayman Islands is a step in the right direction for destination Barbados as we look to further increase connectivity in the region, and open up opportunities for Barbadians to travel to Europe and vice versa…The opportunities with Cayman Airways will be for Barbados to be used as a hub connection for the Eastern Caribbean and for onward connections to the Northern Caribbean.”
Mr Gooding-Edgehill also stated that the new arrangement builds on the success of previous Cayman Airways charters arranged by Barbados.
The Chairman of the Board of Cayman Airways, Dr John Paul Clarke, said this latest move adds to a series of what he termed ‘significant milestones’ for the airline.
“As Minister Bryan stated, traditionally at Cayman Airways in the Caribbean we have flown to our closest neighbours, Jamaica, Cuba and Honduras. This new flight to Barbados offers one-stop connections to a plethora of Eastern Caribbean countries.”
He also said that combined with the planned second LA midweek ‘red-eye’ flight' that opens up even greater convenience for passengers returning from Asia because when they come in they can just come directly home.
At the same time, opportunities are being explored in the British midlands via an interline agreement with Virgin Airways.
“We will have the only one-stop itinerary, of course with convenient baggage check-through between Manchester International Airport in England, and Cayman, which means we now have a one-stop service to the British Midlands, which is a place for which we have great interest from a tourism perspective,” Dr Clarke outlined while reporting improved financial and operational performances by Cayman Airways.
Chief Executive Officer(CEO), Fabian Whorms, said the airline is proud to support the Cayman Islands Government, its sole shareholder, in this collaboration with the Barbados government which he noted “will undoubtedly improve airlift across the Caribbean region.”
He said the scheduled start dates are tentative at this point and subject to change but that they are aiming for the flights to begin on October 18th.
“We're currently working with the relevant regulatory and operational support agencies to ensure that the required approvals for the operation and sale of the flights can come in soon. We expect to have everything in place for tickets to go on sale in early to mid-August. We're currently working with a draft schedule as I indicated, but this schedule will have two midweek rotations(flights) back-to-back from Barbados between Barbados and Grand Cayman on Wednesdays and Thursdays” he stated detailing the planning and operational processes.
In response to a Caymanian Times question asking ‘if it’s the long-term strategy for Cayman Airways to increase its service to the Eastern Caribbean and to encourage more residents of the Eastern Caribbean to come over to the Western Caribbean, Min. Bryan offered this perspective:
“Most naturally, any travel is good travel for the airline. Obviously, we have cultural connectivity, which I think we should embrace. Cayman is a melting pot as it is and I would love to see more Eastern Caribbean nationals here. We've grown tremendously as a population but it's been mainly of Europeans and North Americans. So I think it'd be good for us to have growth in visitation from visitors who have similarities in our background, our culture and heritage. So, yes, it's simply the answer to that.”
The Cayman authorities assured that Cayman Airways has the capacity and resources to pursue these new opportunities in what is the third major route announcement for the airline in the past year, with others under consideration.