CAL heads west with longest ever flight

| 27/08/2018 | 62 Comments
Cayman Airways Denver, Cayman News Service

(L-R) CAL Board Chair Phillip Rankin, CEO Fabian Whorms and Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell

(CNS): Cayman Airways Ltd is adding Denver, Colorado, to its list of gateways as part of its partnership with the Department of Tourism to exploit markets in North America and continue growth in air arrivals to the Cayman Islands. The arrival later this year of the first of two Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, which are capable of flying further than the current CAL fleet, has opened up the possibility of a direct flight between Cayman and the west coast of the US and the longest scheduled commercial flight the airline has ever operated. Denver has been selected as the first gateway because visitors from that area, even without a direct flight, grew more than 10% over the past year.

Speaking at a press conference Monday, airline officials, Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell and DoT Director Rosa Harris revealed the new gateway and the motivation behind the selection.

Over the last twelve months nearly 250 passengers per week came to Cayman from this area, and Colorado is home to the sixth-largest population of scuba divers in America and is ranked as the fastest-growing state for scuba divers. Cayman Airways will be the first and only Caribbean-based airline to operate non-stop service to Denver, which is the largest US market for Cayman without non-stop service.

The new route is being used to build up interest and to increase numbers from the region. It is not expected to become profitable for some time, but Minister Kirkconnell said the government subsidy would not need to be increased to cover the introduction of the flight, which everyone hopes will boost overall tourism revenue.

“Cayman Airways plays a key strategic role in providing airlift to the Cayman Islands, and so we’re excited about the introduction of non-stop service between Grand Cayman and Denver, Colorado,” Kirkconnell said. “Denver is well known as a community of avid divers, who will be thrilled by having the convenience and opportunity to dive in Cayman more often. We are especially pleased that the arrival of CAL’s first Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft this November will help to support dive tourism due to the aircraft’s ability to serve long-range destinations.”

The seasonal non-stop five-hour flights will run from 2 March 2019 until August, and will resume in December. The new Denver route will operate twice-weekly, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and as the first ever direct flight between the destinations, it will cut current travelling time from the West Coast of the US to Cayman by more than half.

“The new Denver non-stop service will reduce the travel time to Cayman from typically between nine and eleven hours using multiple flights, to less than five hours aboard a direct flight on our brand new state-of-the-art Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft,” said President and CEO of Cayman Airways, Fabian Whorms.

He said CAL would be offering visitors from Denver a special introductory round-trip fair from US$396 plus taxes to tempt new and old visitors to the destination next year.

CAL Board Chair Phillip Rankin said the new route was a milestone for Cayman Airways, as it is the longest scheduled commercial flight it has ever operated in its 50-year history.

“It is just the first of many benefits our national airline will achieve for our country with the Fleet Modernization Plan that will see our National Airline boast having the newest jet fleet in the region, while being the first Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft operator in the Caribbean,” he said.

While officials in the Cayman Islands were revealing the new route, there was a similar event happening at Denver International Airport (DEN). In a statement about the new route, Denver’s mayor, Michael Hancock, said new airlines and non-stop destinations provide residents and visitors more options to
explore the world.

“We thank Cayman Airways for investing in our community, and we’re pleased to welcome them as the first Caribbean-based airline to serve Denver,” he said.

Airport CEO Kim Day said it would be a great option for the scuba diving population in the state and for the people of Colorado looking to explore the Cayman Islands and relax on the beach.

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Category: Business, Tourism, Transport

Comments (62)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The new jets are NOT going anytime soon to the west coast (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, etc) for the simple reason that they would first need to lengthen the runway here in Cayman! Place your bets on when that’s going to happen!

    • Anonymous says:

      Why would they need to lengthen the runway in Cayman for the new CAL jets to go to the west coast? Pleas help me understand.

      • Fred the Piemaker says:

        Because the more weight an aircraft has, the longer the runway it needs to accelerate to the point where it can take off. That’s why the BA flight refuels in the Bahamas – so its light enough here to take off, and adds the fuel it needs to get transatlantic in the Bahamas where the runway is way longer. And if you want to fly to the West Coast, you need a lot of fuel, which makes the aircraft far heavier than it needs to be to fly to Miami or Jamaica. Now you could land on the way and refuel, but that would make the service little different from using one of the existing US airlines who would route passengers from the West Coast through an intermediate hub.

        One of the arguments for Cayman buying these new aircraft was their range, but either no one at Cayman Airways thought about the fuel weight/runway factor, or they REALLY wanted the new toys and decided to gloss over the problem.

        Oh, and all the above also ignores the fact that aircraft fuel is way more expensive in Cayman than it is in the US. You can build a longer runway if you like – but the cost per flying hour of flying a Cayman based aircraft to the West Coast without refuelling is going to be higher than a route with a fuel stop off or the hub and spoke approach the US airlines use.

  2. Say it like it is says:

    Too many airheads in Cayman Airways and the Dept of Tourism. We order these longer range jets and now have to invent new and longer routes to justify it. Mark my words this new CAL destination like so many others will lose money in a big way, but we never ever find out how bad it is as load factors are never published. Our aforementioned airheads will of course enjoy frequent trips to the Rockies as they all travel free along with hordes of other locals who have lifetime free passes, before reality sinks in when the subsidy jumps up yet again and the route is discontinued.

    • Kadafe says:

      You sound very educated in these matters, would you prefer no effort is made to increase our tourism and bring more guests to our shores? If you don’t want to move forward you can move or to Brac or little.

  3. Anonymous says:

    CAL excels at making poor business decisions! Denver instead of the Pacific Northwest? Ok so they’ll open the route, fail, then some US carrier will take it over and make a success. Remember CAL Atlanta route?

    • Anonymous says:

      The government has been very successful at using CAL to open direct routes from the US into Cayman. As you mention Atlanta also Houston, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, New York, Chicago. It’s obvious that the goal is for CAL to pioneer a route and entice US carriers to pick it up. Still cheaper than paying the US carriers up front to fly to Cayman like the other Caribbean islands do.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thought it was four 737MAX’s Cayman Airways bought…..

  5. Anonymous says:

    It will make the usual Cayman Airways profit….after government subsidy.

  6. satirony says:

    It would be nice if Cayman Airways were to design a new booking website. It must be the most archaic and frustrating airline website in existence and surely loses the company millions each year.They’ve certainly lost my business as a result,and when I emailed them about it, I received the usual boiler-plate response, because, frankly, they don’t seem to care. I was loyal to Cayman Airways for decades, but there comes the point when enough is enough.

  7. FH says:

    everybody gonna be high coming back lol

  8. Anonymous says:

    I think it would make very interesting reading if Cayman Airways was to release a full list of all persons eligible for free or discounted flights. Perhaps we will then see why successive governments continue to throw the public’s money at this perpetually loss making enterprise. We need to know the truth.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree 11:32. People like a former very senior civil servant who always made sure she was on the Board of Cayman Airways as Government’s representative because she got free flights for herself and husband and the benefit continues for some years (ten I believe) after the person retires. The list must be a very long one.

    • Anonymous says:

      2 thumbs down from people on the list, no doubt

  9. Anonymous says:

    Cayman Financial Service firms do quite a lot of business from Colorado…makes sense.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Reverse tourism, all our potheads will go there for skiing and legal ganja

  11. Anonymous says:

    All those asking the question if Denver on the west coast, ask the government….the airline is being paid to do a job is this not clear by now, 50 years later!!!

    With that…who cares if Denver on the west, east, midcoast, or if they will open up the market and then stop flying; the fact is the government says they are going there now whether you like it or NOT!!

    Have you ever heard the saying that people who run their mouths typically have little actual ability. This is sooo true reading all of your blogs, get a LIFE and leave KX alone.

    The many administrations have ensured everyone has choices to use for air travel. Just please blog who you are when you decide to do that so the government/airline can know who you are when you need to come back because you need some kind of break on your ticket price, penalty etc.

    • Anonymous says:

      10:38 It is useful to have a basic knowledge of North American geography.

    • Anonymous says:


      • Anonymous says:

        Well said 10.38am and 2.19pm irrelevant…regardless of the message saying midcoast instead of mideast, west, or whatever it should be coast, the response was to the point so trust you was smart enough to figure it out…hahaha

        Obvious the part that people who run their mouths typically have little actual ability got to yah. 😉

        Again, like the blogger advises; who cares where Denver is located, the fact is the government says they are going there now and that is it!! Like it or lump it!!

      • Anonymous says:

        They have GPS, don’t worry.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Not sure how CAL can charge the same cost to Miami as one who is traveling to Kingston Jamaica. Kingston is 1 hour and Miami is 1.15 mins if I am correct.

    • Anonymous says:

      So you decide to get wound up about 15 minutes flight time between vastly different destinations – FFS get a life

    • Anonymous says:

      Why not? Demand can skew price. If people will pay it, they will charge it.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I wonder how many of those flight attendants will be going sick when scheduled on that flight!!

  14. Anonymous says:

    when is cayman air gonna start flights to the moon? they get enough subsidy to compete with NASA? knock knock…here to collect Caesar’s taxes!!???????????

  15. Anonymous says:

    I hope the government is aware that cannabis is legal in Denver and have a plan to deal with the many foreigners who are bound to show up with some in their luggage!

    My suggestion would be to mirror what they are doing in Denver and legalize it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wish someone would tell Cayman Airways that Denver is not on the west coast.

      Unfortunately, flights from Seattle, Vancouver, and Calgary will not be in time to hook up with the Denver flight to Cayman. Does anyone in Cayman Airways study flight schedules before they decide on new flights to Cayman?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Being that I’ve worked with Cal for years not surprised by this move and makes absolutely no sense. Just another move to entice the major carriers to invest in flights from “DIA”. It’s the same with DFW which is American Airlines “Hub” who started direct flights and then CAL reduce scheduled flights if I’m not mistaken Cayman Airways have ceased operations to Dallas. Denver International Airport is United Airlines “Hub” how will you compete with a carrier that will bring a 757-300 Er full to capacity once they see the market. Where the Max can only hold 150 to 165 maximum. I’ve worked on ramp with that United 757-300 trust me it’s capacity and amenities are top notch. Cal will go there until United decides to do direct flights.

    • Anonymous says:

      I believe that is the intention.
      KX provides proof of concept for the new market, and then exit when the major airline UA in this case) jumps on board. Reasonable strategy.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I guess the powers that be are looking for better access to the skiing in Colorado

  18. Anonymous says:

    CAL KX420

  19. Anonymous says:

    Denver over Dallas? Huge mistake.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Awesome!! So thrilled! Thanks CAL. Great choice

  21. Anonymous says:

    Let’s hope the flight time is early enough outbound and late enough inbound for connections further west, otherwise not that attractive.

    • Anonymous says:

      bet it won’t be. wed-sat schedule makes no sense.

    • Anonymous says:

      I believe the flight will leave GCM approx 8:00am, which would give an arrival time in Denver of approx. 11:00am ish with the time difference.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s ok outbound from Cayman , but too early inbound to travel back in one day, so NOT going that route.

  22. Anonymous says:

    boycott cayman arways…they have been ripping of us for decades!

    • Anonymous says:

      For clarity, please outline how they have been ripping “us” off.

      Who are you speaking for when you say “us”?

  23. Anonymous says:

    hope the denver folks like 3 star quality for 5 star price on cal……

    • Anonymous says:

      Better than the third rate destination for first class prices the tourists will find when they arrive.

      • Anonymous says:

        Is that why they all come then? To see just how bad it is here? They must forget every year and need to come back to refresh their memories.

  24. Anonymous says:

    why don’t cal do monthly charters to vegas????

  25. Anonymous says:

    Amazing! Now let’s hope the prices are reasonable or else we will still take the AA and Delta to the west.

  26. SSM345 says:

    For a country so Christian I am astounded that we now have a direct flight to the ganja capital of the US. Maybe our leaders can go there too and check out ganja tourism and how it’s flourishing then get the ball moving down here before we miss the boat? It’s a golden egg that we need to get onboard with before the entire Caribbean legalizes it and we miss the boat.

    • Anonymous says:

      Such a true comment 8:08. I was about to say the same thing. Got a direct link to the hydro now. Colorado is booming since it’s change on the war on herb. It’s only fitting to do business where the money is.

    • Anonymous says:

      don’t hold your breath….. remember we live in a place where dancing and music is banned on a sunday along with buying groceries…….zzzzzzzzzzz

    • Anonymous says:

      So I guess you are recommending all direct flights from Toronto, Canada be banned from October 17. On October 17 ganja is legalized in Canada.

  27. Anonymous says:


  28. Anonymous says:

    Makes sense in some respects but usually the progressive millennial population of Colorado aren’t interested in sun, sand and Pina Coladas. Is Denver really on the West coast? Think it’s more Midwest. If I’m right, heaven help the planning and marketing teams.

  29. Anonymous says:

    No one has mentioned the very powerful loyalty programmes other airlines have over CAL. The convenience of a direct flight will not beat the rewards given by the other major carriers. Furthermore, in-flight entertainment on a five hour flight is almost a must to compete. I wish Cayman Airways success but basing a new route simply on numbers is not a good approach. Many of these visitors may well have arrived here on award tickets given by their exisiting loyalty program.

  30. Ah goes nothing says:

    Absolute rubbish move. One of the most expensive markets. Someone must have friends or family out there. I doubt they’ll even break even.

    • Anonymous says:

      They have never made a profit on a flight further than Tampa, EVER!

    • Anonymous says:

      One of the most expensive???? Ummmm no, it’s not on a coast. You must be referring to Cayman

    • Anonymous says:

      break even??? that’s a joke….we have one of the most expensive airlines in the world that cannot make a profit out of charging folks $450 for a 1 hour flight to mia….

      • Anonymous says:

        $450 for a 1 hour flight? $900 for the round trip? That’s ridiculous!

        How much are the government taxes and airport fees? Is that included?

        I am new to Grand Cayman after living in the Provo TCI for 3 years, we only paid $250 each way plus taxes for a total of around $650 for the round trip, granted those flights are only 40 minutes each way to and from Miami, but regardless $450 for a one hour flight is high.

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