New airport arrival hall opens

| 26/01/2018 | 43 Comments
Cayman News Service

Construction zone with one lane for through traffic at ORIA

(CNS): The new arrivals hall has opened at Owen Roberts International Airport. The key part of the $55 million renovation of the facility includes a new customs, immigration, and baggage claim area. The first of five new carousels are already in operation and another four will be opened over the next few weeks, which officials said will speed up the flow-through of passengers from immigration to customs. Albert Anderson, CEO of the Cayman Islands Airports Authority, said the opening of the arrivals hall is a major milestone but there is still work to be done.

Work will now begin on the original terminal, which will be a major challenge. Anderson said he expects things to get a little tight during construction, but as a working airport, the goal is to keep things running smoothly.

As a result of the continuing work, which is still on track to be completed by the end of this year, there are a number of changes that travellers need to note, and officials are urging people to follow the signs. New pedestrian crossings are being put in play to ensure that people have a safe path to get to arrivals, departures, short-term parking and the rental car plaza.

To continue construction works in the old terminal A-frame entrance, the external fencing has been moved onto the street, leaving only one traffic lane in operation for vehicles to use to exit the terminal, and drivers are asked to pat attention to signs. Those dropping off departing passengers will be offered free 15-minute parking in the short-term parking on a temporary basis during the construction phases. Customers will be charged for parking at the regular rate of $2 per hour after the first 15 minutes.

Departing passengers must now enter the terminal through the new check-in hall’s vestibule doors to gain access to all airlines. Visitors to the airport who may be meeting with CIAA employees or airline personnel must also enter the terminal this way and call the recipient to meet by Delta airlines check-in.

Additional customer service representatives in orange shirts are on the ground around the airport, and passengers are encouraged to ask them any questions they may have.

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Comments (43)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The four very expensive $120mln (each) Boeing 737-8 MAX planes we have ordered (with first delivery in November), are going to need a longer runway (and Runway Safety Area buffer) to prevent them from becoming fixtures in the North Sound. Owen Roberts runway is only 2100m long and Charles Kirkconnell only 1832m. At full fuel and capacity passengers and baggage (181,200lb MTOGW), it will have to be inch-perfect take-offs and landings in fair weather dry conditions, with only the most skilled and talented pilots at the controls. Either that, or shorter haul flights at a fraction of total range, or a refuel stop somewhere for with a longer runway, or they fly the plane with full fuel and no passengers and baggage. The point being that something has to yield. We can’t fully utilize those aircraft to MTOGW on our runways the way Moses and Fabian have been talking, and without FAA’s mandated safety buffer. Let’s have that runway extension talk sooner rather than later, untainted by politics. Either that or we will need an Engineering Material Arresting System (EMAS) in the North Sound at the end of the runway. We don’t want these guys asking the impossible from our pilots and inviting a serious incident, or pretending this is a “surprise realization” to the public in November.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Getting through immigration is a hassle in pretty much every country and when flying through Miami, I have to book a 3-4 hour layover as otherwise I never know whether I can make my connection or not as it all depends on how well their immigrations desks are staffed and how many arrivals occur at the same time as mine.

    I don’t think that visitors won’t return back because they had a long wait at the airport, but that other negative experiences on Island (such as traffic congestion, inflated prices, litter all over the place etc) are more likely to make a lasting negative impression.

    What I would like to see is some more thorough immigration and customs approach to ensure that no contraband is brought to the Island (including certain foods, vegetables etc) and that not so many people arrive to look for a jobs once lands as they should have the proper work permit prior to arrival. I have never seen a sniffer dog in action at the airport (not for drugs, not for agricultural matter) but not sure if this takes place consistently when the luggage is offloaded. I have never seen any officers in the arrival hall or in the luggage area to observe people and determine potential suspicious behavior.

    If someone arriving needs a more thorough investigation, this should be conducted in a “private” room in order to not interrupt the process for other people arriving, however, I have never witnessed anybody being escorted to a “private room” for enhanced inspection.

    This is a different world. Drug smugglers are getting more and more creative with hiding contraband and a lot of people still don’t understand that bringing in agricultural goods from other countries (even in small quantities) can potentially have disastrous consequences for our environments, yet it doesn’t seem that our border protection officers have been trained accordingly.

    So yes, whilst I also would like to be able to get through the airport as quickly as possible, I would rather that a bigger visible effort is made to keep our country safe.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Building a larger Immigration hall is nice but staff it full during peak hours. It is just like the banks on this island. They build like 10 desks but inevitably there are only two or three occupied with the slowest and most miserable people..

    Isn’t there a place where people can be sent for customer service training on island? If not someone could make a fortune from a business like this..

    • Tourist says:

      As a regular visitor to the islands I am happy to see the new arrivals hall opened. I do not understand though why all of a sudden people are complaining about the long lines in Immigration. Has anyone ever traveled to another country? Immigration lines at every airport are long as the job is border control. What would you prefer? Would you rather visitors coming into the island are not checked and breeze right through causing major issues for the islands? Immigration and Customs have to check people coming into the island. It is a thankless job but it is being done even with all the complaints. Maybe everyone making comments should think about that. I would also like to point out that when you have multiple flights landing in a short period of time you will get a line up of people. However I’m sure the people commenting on here need something to complain about but as I see it that’s life. Personally I am quite ok with a long line if I know the country I came to is safe.

    • Anonymous says:

      Customer service training for the Civil Sevice takes place at Licensing Department

  4. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know what’s happening, but to have to wait 2 hours to meet someone is quite ridiculous. As I arrived at the Arrivals area – I overheard visitors, staggering out of the doors, complaining to each other that it had taken 2 hours to get through Immigration and Customs – and I then went on to wait 2 hours for my guests. If all the booths are full of immigration officers and there is still this wait – it’s simple – there aren’t enough booths. Put some more in and do whatever you have to do to get people through in a timely manner. They don’t have to be manned when there’s only one flight in. Don’t waste money on a new airport if you can’t offer a better service.

    And what’s this with the grey line that you’re not allowed to cross over in the arrivals hall? Who said? Where’s the sign? A bunch of us were told to get back over the grey line and not to venture any further (even though the parking ticket machine is over the line). We’re not telepathic – a sign would help.

    • Anonymous says:

      I heard some American tourists leaving the terminal the other night complaining about waiting 1 hour for customs to process 6 people in front of them. This is no way to welcome anyone to our island, let alone paying guests.

      • Anonymous says:

        Now they know how visitors to the US are treated in Miami.

        • Anonymous says:

          True but the US doesn’t need us going there quite as much as we need them coming here. Just be because US immigration sucks doesn’t mean we should copy it.

        • Anonymous says:

          Miami is a breeze these days. They have tons of kiosk’s now and you walk right out of Customs, No more waiting in two separate lines like Cayman..It is amazing how it takes a machine less than two mins to process a passenger but a human takes 15-20 mins, sometimes more to do the same thing..How about some kiosk’s Cayman?..At least we won’t have to be insulted by sullen Immigration Officers..

      • Anonymous says:

        Well their countrymen should stop taking so many guns in with them.

  5. Anonymous says:

    So yesterday,

    Arrived on a flight from Little Cayman, Immigration a breeze, as always.
    A few minutes wait, then the luggage to start arriving, though it appeared that the conveyor was not working and luggage was brought in by hand…. A bit of delay but not a big problem!

    Then to customs.. We are internal passengers so no issue? We asked the customs rep standing at the entrance where to go, supplying the information that we are coming the Sister Islands. We were told to get in the customs line.

    Despite the fact that the hall was close to empty, nobody in customs had removed the unnecessary 5 or 6 wiggles through the room-wide barriers, making a 5 second walk into a bit of a fiasco with baggage.

    Once at the front of the line a customs officer asked for any Sister Island passengers to divert to the exit, showing their boarding pass. Amen! It would have been a straight shot, and 5 second walk to get to this gentleman if not misdirected by customs officials encountered earlier.

    Dear Mr Clifford,

    Please impress upon your officers that they are there to serve the public, not hinder them unduly, particularly when they are commuters from the Sister Islands, over whom they have no jurisdiction,

    Yours sincerely,


  6. Anonymous says:

    New and larger facilities are one thing. The main problem is the lack of immigration (especially ) and Customs officers. No matter how many new kiosks or additional space, if there is not increased efficiency by border control agencies, the lines will still be long and miserable!

    • Fred the Piemaker says:

      Given they don’t seem to have the staff to man the existing desks in arrivals doubling the number does seem a tad pointless. Hopefully customs and immigration are both recruiting to cover the increased capacity, at least at peak times.

    • Anonymous says:

      I was there yesterday waiting for friends, a big improvement being able to wait inside….however with at least 5 aircraft arriving within 50 minutes it was a long wait for our friends to come through, it took over an hour…

  7. Anonymous says:

    They really need to work on getting a better customer service attendant at the Ground Transportation desk inside the new arrivals hall. Yesterday, as I was waiting on my guests to arrive, I watched and listened to her be rude to just about every guest that asked her a question. Obviously, she was having a bad day, but having someone like this there as our islands first impression is not a good thing. She never even bothered to get out of the chair she was sitting in to help anyone unless she had to run the credit card machine..By the way the airport could do better as well, she was sitting on a regular chair behind a desk that really needs a bar stool height chair where the people coming in can actually see her.

    Just some food for thought! Maybe before hiring these people, make sure that have the disposition to work with people, put them through customer service training and do recurrent training ever six months.

    We need someone there with a bright smile on their face, a cheery and welcoming disposition and maybe someone that has a good grasp and knowledge of the island so that they can be more helpful when our visitors arrive and ask questions..How about hiring someone of the newly “forced to retire” older Caymanian that know what Caymankind is..

    To tell you the truth I felt totally embarrassed yesterday…

    • Anonymous says:

      As career Taxi dispatchers, it’s appalling how ill-prepared they are for arriving passengers, even with the arriving aircraft timetable and the sound of jets landing over their shoulder. DoT should also be routinely auditing the entire guest arrivals experience like our competitors do. So much is broken, but easily fixed if there was any competency.

    • Anonymous says:

      Or just get rid of this totally pointless piece of created employment; every other airport in the world seems to manage with a signpost to the taxi rank.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sure, then the taxis can rip you off and no one is there to tell you otherwise! Let the tourists at least get to where they stay before the taxis start ripping them off like they do to us all.

        However, that chick is a brat.

      • Anonymous says:

        Respectfully, the MIA, LHR, and other airports had staff (private or public) on hand for ‘ground transport’ direction and to answer questions after I arrived in them over the last year. While good signage is a godsend (especially in multi-lingual situations, which airports are by nature) I can’t think of one I’ve been through that didn’t have an attendant (somewhere) at departures to help arriving passengers get where they need to go, including to get a taxi.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is so true..I think I know the same one and like we Caymanians say she is always “hoggish” to people..

      Albert needs to take a look at the front line people carefully and make some changes..

    • Anonymous says:

      I totally agree and have witnessed this woman as well. Constantly has a frown on her face and miserable, almost unapproachable. I have seen her lash out at a tourist who simply didn’t understand that he couldn’t pay to get his car out of the short term at the exit gate…The sad part she was screaming this out so loud that me and everyone else in the area could hear and to say the least it was simply embarrassing for Cayman…Something needs to be done!

      The parking system still sucks. The machine very rarely work and don’t take credit cards and their is no proper signage to tell people what to do.

      I say if they can’t fix it up up the short term free of charge until they can come up with something that actually works..because in the meantime our visitors will have to contend with this miserable woman screaming at them…

  8. Anonymous says:

    We all know who will get the shop concessions all governments mates.
    Now originality

  9. Anonymous says:

    How about not having all of the day’s flights arriving within 30 minutes of each other? This is sure to feel needlessly gigantic and vacant most of the time, and especially when arrivals area eventually doubles in size. Adios island charm.

  10. Anonymous says:

    booooooo who cares, they took out the waving gallery!

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh yeah, the waving gallery was so needed — waving to people that you will see in 10 minutes anyway.

      • Anonymous says:

        See your friends 10 min after landing , when was the last time you passed through immigration at the airport , I arrived beginning of December on a plane that was no where near being full and it took over one and quarter hours to have passport checked . It was taking so long that customs staff kept appearing in the immigration hall to see what the cause of the hold up was, great impression to guests and visitors.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Driving through today I noticed that there is no pedestrian crossing yet out of the new arrivals hall. Seems a bit irresponsible given the pedestrian death last year that they couldn’t have this in place before opening.

    • Sleepless in South Sound says:

      Actually, the pedestrian crossing is located further to the west of the “exit” from HM Customs (same as before), as this leads to the short term customer parking lot. Directly across from the “new” HM customs hall is the taxi queue lane, and taxi’s are only permitted to load from the sidewalk, thus no need for a pedestrian crossing at that location. Staff parking is also accessible from the original/existing pedestrian crossing & sidewalk.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Is there an “English Testing Booth”. Something on a PC that has 1000 random test options, without the ability to be corrupted and works to protect Caymanians from low income, unskilled labor taking our jobs. At least this way the possible corruption with the human element is out of the equation.


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