CAL didn’t hesitate over safety, says CEO

| 15/03/2019 | 31 Comments
Cayman News Service

New Cayman Airways Max 8 aircraft

(CNS): The early decision by Cayman Airways Ltd to ground its new Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft within hours of the Ethiopian Airlines fatal crash on Sunday was made without hesitation, the national flag carrier’s CEO, Fabian Whorms, has said, as airlines around the world struggle to deal with the grounding of the planes, which could be for some time. CAL has said that it now has contingency plans in place for at least four weeks to fill the gaps created by the grounded aircraft and has even managed to service the Denver route with its existing 737-300 models.

“The financial implications of voluntarily grounding aircraft, that are technically still operational, can be very significant, and this obviously contributed to a reluctance on the part of some airlines to proactively ground their Max fleets,” Whorms stated in a release Thursday evening. “For us at Cayman Airways, however, our decision was made without any hesitation or any reservation. For over half a century, we have placed the safety of our passengers and crew as our absolute number one priority.”

The airline boss said Cayman Airways’ shareholder — the government — its board of directors, the management, and “dedicated staff” were all equally committed to the safest operation possible.

“I can assure everyone that we will never, at any time, place commercial interests, or financial considerations, ahead of our longstanding and total commitment to safety. We thank all of our valued passengers for continuing to put their trust in our national airline, Cayman Airways,” he added.

However, Whorms did not say what CAL intended to do about the grounding of the two new planes and whether or not the airline would be seeking some form of recompense from Boeing to cover losses, or whether its own insurance would be able to cover additional costs incurred sub-contracting other aircraft.

But Whorms joined other airline bosses in noting that the tragic loss of Ethiopian flight 302, coming just five months after the equally tragic loss of Lion Air flight 610, “both in similar stages of flight and exhibiting glaring similarities”, impacted the decision to ground the planes, ahead of what became a chain reaction around the world by airlines and then regulators.

Despite the challenges emerging from the suspension of Max 8’s, CAL said it had been successfully implementing a series of contingencies and schedule adjustments to accommodate passengers. Customers affected by the modified schedule are being contacted by Cayman Airways on a flight-by-flight basis in advance of their departure date.

Cayman Airways CFO Paul Tibbetts said the schedule was allowing most flights to operate at, or near, their original schedule and flight cancellations have been limited to only one rotation for New York and Miami per week, with those passengers being placed on other flights.

“As we are not certain about the length of time that our Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft will remain out of service, we are making contingency plans and schedule adjustments to address the next four weeks of operation, and beyond if necessary,” Tibbetts said.

He also said that even the Denver route was being covered and it would continue to operate using CAL’s 737-300’s or with substitute aircraft provided by a contracted carrier meeting safety and regulatory requirements.

CAL Vice President of Flight Operations Captain Dave Scott said the 737-300’s had made the route this week without a fuel stop.

“On some legs of our Denver flights, the Boeing 737-300 aircraft may require a short en route fuel stop, depending on the passenger loads and atmospheric conditions, but this is expected to be minimal. Using the Denver rotation on March 14 …the winds aloft were favorable, and our Boeing 737-300 aircraft was therefore capable of safe nonstop operations on both flight legs, even though the southbound leg was full,” Captain Scott said.

If passengers hold upcoming bookings and have any concerns regarding their flight, they can call Cayman Airways Reservations at 1-800-G-CAYMAN (toll-free in the USA/Canada), or 1-345-949-2311 (worldwide).

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Category: Business, Transport

Comments (31)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    We flew back from Miami on the Max 8 on Sunday night of 10th March – a full flight with teams of kids on board and this was after the Ethiopean crash. Next morning we find out it has been suspended. Why wasn’t it suspended immediately following the crash? All lives matter !

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    • Anonymous says:

      I was on the same flight and the press release had already been issued and was all over social media. It didn’t make for a comfortable flight at all, they should have waited until after we landed or grounded it as you suggested. Poor execution on CAL part for sure

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Only reason they responded so quickly is because they know one fatal accident will be the end of CAL and the end of their government subsidized annual profit soiree

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  3. Anonymous says:

    I hope CAL isn’t going to be using the excuse of the Max 8 aircrafts not being used to continuously be late on Friday nights just because the flights from Honduras are late every time. If Honduras can’t get their act together then find another slot. Every Friday that I have gone to Miami on the evening flight, it is delayed up to 2 hours. It’s ridiculous!!! Oh and by the way, the fact that Southwest can give 2 pieces of luggage for free and CAL charges, will not help CAL make money, but it will help it continue to lose customers. FIX THE FRIDAY FLIGHT ISSUE!

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  4. Jotnar says:

    Anyone who thinks that this can be put down to pilot error – including buying into Boeing’s preferred story that if the pilots had simply switched off the MCAS all would have been well – or that a Boeing is going to find a quick solution to the problem, should read the article below. Scary stuff. Think Mr Whorms better start working on a longer term solution – waiting for Boeing to fix this could be a long wait indeed.

    https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/03/article/was-the-737-max-problem-just-bad-software/

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  5. Jotnar says:

    “a noose around the neck of the albatross called Cayman..” Wow – that’s a great mixed metaphor. Almost poetic – stand aside Coleridge – although perhaps a little cruel to call Cayman an albatross.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    FAA’s aproval of the 737 Max 8 under investigation.These planes should not have been flying period but let’s see how they will twist it.Pilot errors?No.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Now would be a good time to ask for our money back! The reputation of these 737 Max is their end before they began. Get a couple more 737 300s. Their track record is flawless. May cost to maintain but cheaper than a crash which I don’t believe we could afford.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Return the Max 8’s yes. But not for 300’s. Get the 800’s. WITH WIFI and ENTERTAINMENT!!!!

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    • Anonymous says:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_accidents_and_incidents_involving_the_Boeing_737#737_Classic_(737-300/-400/-500)_aircraft. While the 737-300 is a great airplane with a reputable reputation they certainly aren’t flawless. Funny because, I thought with some common sense you’d suggest the 737-800/900 which has literally half the number of fatalities caused by the 737-300s (737 Classic). While incorporating the multitude of features over the 737 Classic.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Of course, the Classic has been in service 14 years longer – almost twice the length of service as the 800/900.

    • Anonymous says:

      Right idea, wrong type. Outfit with the 737-800NG’s. And readjust the business plan going forward. I get that cayman airways wanted to do something exciting and no one could have ever predicted the two fatal crashes, but I say we jumped the gun with this fleet upgrade. Two quick examples are: Bahamas air just went from a 737-500 to a 737-700NG. Surinam airways also went from a 737-300 to a 737-700NG. Both countries with substantial popoulations and larger economies yet bypassed the whole max thing and are still able to utilize their whole fleet.
      FYI Next generation Boeing’s (NG’s) start from the 737-600, -700, -800 and -900. Essentially the same aircraft requiring the same maintenance and pilot training, just different seating arrangements and engine thrust outputs and weights. although first launched in 1994 the NG’s have been in continuous production since then and have at least another 20 years or more left in service.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Not sure how Whorms can be so confused about ban duration. We can all read they are going to be grounded until at least May, and will require substantial updating/backdating in order for ban to be lifted.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Boeing has advised the airlines mid to end of April depending on progress with testing and certification

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      • Anonymous says:

        And another 6 months to persuade people to get back on them! If ever. They may want to relaunch it under a different name.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    I dreamt I was on an Airplane driving through town, due to a recent spike in Airplane news.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    So if the 300s could safely make the Denver route, why was it implied that the Max 8s were necessitated for the same route?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Because it’s only possible 20 percent of the time.

    • Anonymous says:

      Larger load would require the plane to refuel on the smaller planes. More passengers more weight faster the fuel in consumed. With the lighter loads during the initial opening of the gate the 300 could do the job but if the load gets heavier it would require a refueling stop somewhere.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Very proud of my KX leading the way. This is just another example of why I choose to support our airline.

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    • Axe the Max says:

      KX led the way becaue they also lead the way in having a bottomless pit of funding with profits a non issue.
      The recent 737-300 non stop flight to Denver reveals something CAL always keeps under wraps, a low passenger load, meaning more losses/

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      • Anonymous says:

        Some higher ups who fly for free wanted new planes to take them to their pot smoking jollies in Denver. My guess is the CAL subsidy will increase in the coming budget.

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      • Anonymous says:

        That’s true but we don’t care. We recognise our limitations and still the right decision was made here and quickly.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Can’t you read – or don’t you want to? Cap. Scott just said (above) that yesterday’s southbound leg was full! Duhhhh!

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        • anonymous says:

          Duuhhhhhhhhh 3.02pm. Have you ever heard of a CAL flight full of fare paying passengers, I bet the majority on the southbound flight were VIP’s , civil servants, board members, employees and other jolly qualifying freebieites.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Axe tells it like it is , to the Max.

    • Anonymous says:

      Lest we forget, Mr. Whorms came to the CEO post with a considerable aircraft maintenance engineering background and also as an engineering manager, so with such a combination of training and experience in a responsible position he should be well placed to understand aircraft airworthiness and decision making under conditions of uncertainty. Cayman Airways is fortunate by having him in the post.

      However, It is time this country appreciates all those unsung heroes called engineers in general whether they are licensed aircraft mechanics or other levels of the registered disciplines of professional engineers known as Chartered or P.E’s in the other industries. They are the true practitioners of the applied sciences that provide the essentials such as electricity and water and utilities in general for our society.

      The engineering profession does more than build roads, buildings and bridges that one can see every day.
      The absence of a proper engineers registration Act is sorely needed, and is becoming like a noose around the neck of the albatross called Cayman. We are well behind many regional countries who have had such legislation in place for decades to regulate these professionals. Those who are in the high profile financial services and commerce need to be reminded that their very existence relies upon the infrastructure and services provided by those unsung heroes who frequently make daily decisions that impact us all like Mr. Whorms led his team to do, but may not necessarily be as high a profile.

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