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GCM to LAX to start 5 November

Local News 07 Jul, 2022 1 Comments Follow News

GCM to LAX to start 5 November

CAL CEO Fabian Whorms speaks at PACI CAL Press Conference

PACI Chairman Cline Glidden speaks at PAC CAL Press Conference

By Lindsey Turnbull

As reported in the Caymanian Times last week, Cayman Airways will this year begin a non-stop service to Los Angeles, taking about five and a half hours in flight time. In a press conference held on Thursday, Tourism and Transport Minister Kenneth Bryan gave some further details to this new addition to Cayman Airways’ service, including the date on which the GCM – LAX route will start: Saturday 5 November.

Fares could not be promoted or marketed as yet because not all paperwork had been completed, but Cayman Airways CEO Fabian Whorms said they would be “very competitive and attractive”.

“I anticipate that by the end of this month we will have our flights loaded and ready for sale and I ask that everyone keep tuned to our website and our social media platforms,” he said.

Mr Whorms said that while the new service has a WiFi service, as it did not at this point have internet connection travelers could not enjoy streaming services such as Netflix but they could enjoy entertainment via an on board server, which offered movies, TV, games, music and local content. Flights would be once a week, what Mr Whorms called a “conservative entry” into this market, however a second weekly flight or even three flights a week were likely because of the expected demand.

The flight leaves LAX at 7am on Sunday mornings and arrives at Grand Cayman at 3.30pm in the afternoon. The departure from GCM will be at 3.45pm on Saturdays and arrive in LAX at 7pm, “good comfortable times”, he said. Mr Whorms said that roughly 8,000 people visited Cayman each year from Southern California and when they implemented the Denver flights they saw a doubling in the numbers arriving from that destination, so even a conservative 50% increase would see around 4,000 extra visitors from Los Angeles, putting approximately $16 million into the economy. The economic impact would be quite significant, especially if they could increase the number of flights per week.

Minister Bryan thought the new route was crucial for the tourism industry because although air arrivals were trending in the right direction, increasing month over month, there was still a long way to go until Cayman got back to pre-pandemic levels.

“There is no question that a direct service between Grand Cayman and Los Angeles presents a lucrative opportunity for Cayman Airways and the Cayman Islands, to increase stayover visitation,” he said.

The new service was in line with government’s strategic goals to expand into emerging and secondary markets, market Cayman to high net worth visitors and expand Cayman Airways routes.

“Once it becomes operational, it will be a game changer for our destination,” he stated. “By opening up the western United States we will be making it easier for travellers from Los Angeles and other feeder markets such as San Francisco and Seattle, to have easier access to the Cayman Islands.”

This new route would also enhance air connectivity for travelers originating from Asia and Australia, opening up Cayman to even more markets that are currently unserved. This would make our islands accessible and more attractive to a whole new segment of travelers, he said.

“And because Cayman Airways will be the only Caribbean airline providing a direct service from LAX Airport, we have an ideal opportunity to capture the attention of travelers, encourage them to visit our shores and give them such a wonderful experience that they become loyal, repeat visitors to our destination,” he added.

Beginning November, there will be 160 seats on each flight, 16 of those business class and the remainder economy seats. The timing of the route in early November was a strategic decision that the government believed would be instrumental for success, coinciding with the start of the high season for travel and allowing key stakeholders lead time to build awareness in the market, to ensure potential travelers know the service is available.

Minister Bryan said that the hotels that would benefit from bringing visitors from California would play their part in investing in the exercise.

“I want to congratulate the CITA President Marc Langevin for partnering with the Ministry, Department of Tourism and Cayman Airways on this exercise. So much credit is due to him for brokering the ability to do this,” he said.

In particular, the hotels would be helping with the FAM (familiarisation) trips whereby agents would be brought across from the west coast.

There would also be a trip to LA to market the route.

“The president of CITA along, with many other hoteliers from at least three of the hotels, will be partnering with that with their own international marketing about the announcement of this flight. We are not doing this alone. They are the key beneficiaries of this exercise by filling their rooms, but Caymanians work in those rooms and we get tax on it, so we’re all in this together,” Minister Bryan said.

Mr Whorms said he had never seen this level of desire from the local hoteliers to participate with Cayman Airways.

“There’s a paradigm shift happening here to put more skin in the game for their own benefit...I’m seeing something special here,” he said.

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Rob adams

09 Jul, 2022

This will help us coming out of Las Vegas