Prince opens ‘people’s airport’

| 28/03/2019 | 35 Comments
Cayman News Service

Prince Charles and Camilla, accompanied by Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell, greet residents of the Cayman Islands after their arrival

(CNS): Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, officially opened what the deputy premier called the ‘people’s airport’ on Wednesday evening in front of a cheering crowd in a short but well orchestrated ceremony. The royal couple touched down at Grand Cayman’s Owen Roberts Internal Airport (ORIA) just before 4:00pm in the RAF Voyager, which brought them directly from their historic visit to Cuba on the last stop of their whirlwind regional tour. After the royals landed they were greeted by Cayman Islands Government leaders and an RCIPS guard of honour before being whisked to the front of the airport, where the short event began.

Premier Alden McLaughlin welcomed the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, stating that their visit affirmed the “strong relationship” between the UK and Cayman, as he thanked them for agreeing to officially open the revamped airport.

“The improvements to our airport are to carry us through the next few decades as tourism numbers continue to soar,” he said, adding that he hoped the royal couple would return home with fond memories of Cayman and its people. “On behalf of our people, welcome, welcome, welcome!” he said.

Cayman News Service

Plaque at ORIA commemorating the event (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Deputy Premier and Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell was clearly delighted that the heir to the throne had agreed to open what he said was truly “the people’s airport”, as it had been built from cash and not loans and was one hundred percent owned by the public.

He said the pledge to provide the Cayman Islands with a world-class airport had been fulfilled and it signified Cayman’s progress, and the “bigger, better airport” was a “standard-bearer for the Caymankind brand”. Kirkconnell said that work would begin in the near future to lengthen the runway.

Just before Charles and Camilla pulled off the red velvet cover to unveil the commemorative plaque outside the new departure terminal, Cayman Islands Airports Authority CEO Albert Anderson said the airport upgrade multiplied the capacity of the airport more than four times. He said ORIA had gone from a little wooden building in the 1950’s to this new complex facility designed to handle 2.7 million people a year.

Thanking all those who had played a role in the work over the last three years, Anderson noted the challenges along the way, especially keeping the airport open throughout the project during a period of record-breaking arrival numbers, which he said was “nothing shore of a miracle”.

While the royals have now officially opened the facility, the upgrade is not yet finished and the final price tag of the facility, estimated to be in excess of $70 million, has still not been revealed. Anderson said that even more would be done to improve the facility.

Cayman News Service

Prince Charles chats to Premier Alden McLaughlin (left) and Governor Martyn Roper (right) at Government House (Photo by GIS, CLICK TO ENLARGE)

After Anderson’s brief words about the project, the royal couple unveiled the plaque before meeting and greeting with the people who had come out to welcome them, including dozens of school children, and the duchess was given a balloon to mark the couple’s upcoming wedding anniversary next month. After the short event, the prince and the duchess were ferried away in the governor’s white Jaguar to Government House, where the Prince of Wales had a private meeting with Governor Martyn Roper and Premier Alden McLaughlin.

The royals had a packed schedule ahead of them Thursday, with the prince  heading to the Sister Islands and his wife attending various events around George Town, before they are expected to meet up at Pedro Castle this evening for their final event.

They are then heading back to Britain, where Her Majesty’s government is currently in political meltdown over Brexit.

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Comments (35)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Bit of a diplomatic gaffe there, I’m afraid.

    Naming something or someone “the People’s …” in popular culture began in 1997 on the death of “the people’s princess” – none other than Diana, Charles’s nemesis.

    No doubt he caught the reference, and, knowing his overweening vanity, was offended by it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wonder why the plaque says the “new Owen Roberts International Airport”? Don’t the morons in charge who had the plaque made (and all the moron powers above them) know the difference between a new airport and a new airport terminal building??!!

    Guess not!!

  3. Say it like it is says:

    Has anyone been upstairs, it’s nothing but a maze of temporary drywalling, seems it will be another 12 months before this part is finished.
    Another issue – the airport parking ticket machine in the arrivals area. Not only can it not take credit cards, it is unable to accept CI$25 notes. This has been so for months, but we still don’t have a notice on the machine alerting customers to this problem. Also will we get the parking areas properly surfaced so our luggage doesn’t get coated in mud- I bet this was done in the Brac where all the NRA equipment seems to be permanently stored.

    • Anonymous says:

      Good point on the parking area. Why not paved?

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh my God, we should have gone with the Canadians for the new airport. Then the contractors who did not finish on time would be financially penalised.The airport will not really be fully completed until next year.

  4. V says:

    From the turn out it is easy to see the Royal Family does not carry much weight in Cayman. Besides the Sycophantic few.

    • Anonymous says:

      Few on the planet over 40 care much for Charles and Camilla and their public journey for redemption. William, or Harry, or HM QE, would be an entirely different public response – actually necessitating a day off for many.

      • Captain Kirk. says:

        Peoples airport? sounds like it is in North Korea. Owen Roberts International Airport since the early fifties thank you. Caymanians remember.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell seemed prominently displayed with the royalty in photos, ought we to take this as a signal as he is to be Alden’s replacement?

  6. Anonymous says:

    No gifts…not even a royal blessing? hmm…sure took alot but didnt give a thing

  7. Anonymous says:

    Did he open the jetways as well?

  8. Calypso girl says:

    I am glad I am off island with all this drama when he came to Trini he stayed for four days no big fuss !

  9. Anonymous says:

    He needs to get UK to provide us with a better business bureau. So Cayman can businesses can have a level platform. So company’s like CUC and Flow would have to straighten up. We have a very communist style economy. But according to UK we have until 2020 to straighten up. Or what ? Is the question.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Cayman needs a real leader not a Royal Visitor

  11. Anonymous says:

    Good for him. He’s too late and unless he plans to seriously help Cayman. There is no point of him being here other than his own convenience.

  12. Anonymous says:


    • Anonymous says:

      It was truly an amazing 24 hrs for Cayman and its people. Lets the negative posters continue in their misery.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Did Mac wear his wig and robes again?

  14. Anonymous says:

    The airport may be internal but did you mean international?

  15. Anonymous says:

    What a shame only a couple hundred came for opening. Why no news coverage of the protestors.

    CNS: We have now posted an article on this: Demo uses royal visit to raise social concerns

    • Anonymous says:

      Many thanks CNS.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because everybody was at work! The islands got today off while the royals were mostly in the sister islands. Im guessing that had something to do with our MoT being from the sister islands!

    • Anon says:

      Let’s think about your comment for a minute… most of the islands workers work in either the finance or tourism industry. They didn’t close bars & restaurants so people needed to go to work. March is probably the busiest month for the finance industry so no day off for them either. They made accessing the places where the visits were taking place very difficult and traffic was a nightmare, no wonder not many people could go. I would have gone if 1. I didn’t have to work & 2. If I could get to the location

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