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Front Pages 29 Jan, 2022 Follow News


Cayman Airways has found itself at the centre of a multi-country diplomatic squabble over a scheduled flight taking Cuban passengers from Havana bound for Jamaica en route to Nicaragua.

According to officials of the national carrier, on Friday afternoon the airline was in the process of boarding 86 passengers - including Caymanians and other Cayman residents, along with Cuban passengers - for the flight to Cayman.

The Cuban passengers were in-transit via Cayman and Jamaica on their way to Nicaragua.

But word came from Jamaican immigration authorities notifying Cayman Airways that “they could not guarantee that some 86 passengers travelling from Havana, Cuba (with onward connections to KX606 to Kingston and subsequent connections from Kingston to Nicaragua) would be allowed to land in Kingston, Jamaica despite their tickets and itineraries being in order.”

As a result of this notification, Cayman Airways said flight KX833 from Havana to Grand Cayman, was delayed while a resolution with the Jamaican authorities was sought.

According to the airline, when it became apparent that a timely resolution was not forthcoming, they determined it would be unable to transport the 86 passengers on that flight.

No reason was stated for the decision by the Jamaican authorities in the situation which was then further complicated by the Cuban authorities stepping in and preventing Cayman Airways from boarding any passengers on that flight.

As a result, Caymanians and residents who were due to fly back to Cayman from Havana had to overnight in Cuba and update their COVID testing requirements to return to the jurisdiction.

According to the Cayman Airways statement, “With the Cayman Airways flight crew in Havana approaching their duty time limitations, and with the aircraft needed back in Grand Cayman for subsequent flights, the airline was eventually forced to cancel (Friday’s) KX833 flight, and return the aircraft to Grand Cayman without passengers.”

This development has impacted Cayman Airways’ schedule operations with two other flight rotations on Friday evening encountering minor delays.

Cayman Airways said passengers from Havana, who were not travelling to Jamaica but were nonetheless affected by Friday’s flight cancellation are being accommodated and will travel to Grand Cayman on the next available flight.

Up to late Friday, Cayman Airways was reporting that “a formal resolution to the matter remains uncertain at this time” and it was still unclear on Saturday whether or not the issue was resolved.”

The airline had further stated that until it receives confirmation from Jamaican Immigration authorities that passengers will be allowed to land in Jamaica when originating in Cuba with onward connections to Nicaragua, it has no choice but to restrict travel between Havana and Kingston for those passengers (with onward connections from Kingston to Nicaragua).

There has been so far no word from the Jamaica consulate in Cayman, the government in Kingston, or the Cayman Islands Government - including the Governor's Office on the reason for barring the Cuban passengers from landing in Jamaica.

This development is seen as potentially impacting Jamaica’s international relations with both Cuba and Cayman..and by extension the British government.

While Cayman does have some say over aspects of international relations, this area largely falls within the purview of the Governor.

Also, the decision by the Cuban government to consequently bar any passengers - including Caymanians and Cayman residents - from boarding the Cayman Airways flight has added another dimension to the issue.

Cayman Airways said it regrets any inconvenience this situation has caused for our valued passengers.

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