CITA stresses need for well managed airport

| 11/07/2019 | 98 Comments
Cayman News Service
Passengers in the departure lounge at the Owen Roberts International Airport earlier this month

(CNS): Given the importance of its success to the tourism industry and to the country’s economy as a whole, the management team at the Cayman Islands Tourism Association is urging government to allocate “the necessary resources and expertise to the CIAA” , in order to protect the sector. The recent flooding and reports of overcrowding and travellers suffering significant discomfort as a result of knock-on delays shows that the airport management needs to be prepared, CITA added.

Responding to enquiries about how the recent airport problems are impacting tourism business, the president of the private sector body said the Cayman Islands Airport Authority had to be ready to rapidly respond to changing conditions due to weather, flight operations or equipment failure.

“In reality, much of such preparedness and anticipation unfortunately comes from experience, be it related to facility management or operations management,” said CITA President Theresa Leacock-Broderick.

“With all due respect to the public’s concerns and everyone’s best intentions for the airport to be a fast, efficient and overall pleasant experience for all, given that it is our island’s first and last visitor experience, we need to be thankful that these pitfalls didn’t occur during an emergency situation and, at best, that they have proved critical (for) the airport authority teams. It’s an ideal time to learn the nuances of a new facility as temperatures climb and the storm season sets in,” she said.

The has been significant criticism of the airport renovations, as many people believe the project was mishandled and has not delivered what was expected, given the costs and time it to took to renovate. When the project started, government was still on a very tight budget, managing the fallout from the recession, the impact of previous deficits and the mismanagement of public finances.

Critics have said that as a result, the redevelopment was under-financed. Since then, with significant improvements in the public coffers, the tourism ministry has revealed plans to continue work on the facility to extend and revamp the runway and apron, as well as more upgrades at the new terminal, including the possibility of jetways.

But the airport was several months late and around $20 million over budget. There have been anecdotal reports of myriad problems with the facility, but last month the public was outraged when the facility’s internal water-management system was unable to cope with a bout of heavy rain, and the terminals flooded.

Then, just a week later, reports came into CNS and other news media from passengers at the airport that the air-conditioning had malfunctioned and that the terminal was overcrowded and extremely uncomfortable. Officials denied that the air-conditioning was not working but accepted there was some crowding as a result of a series of delays.

Given these and other issues, there are concerns that the government is not focusing its tourism attention where it should. With overnight guests responsible for more than three-quarters of the revenue the entire sector generates, the community remains critical that the tourism minister and the premier are fixated on the cruise dock rather than the airport, which has the potential to improve and retain the more lucrative overnight market.

CITA, which supported the airport expansion, has also noted that it is not just cash investment that is important, but resourcing the facility more generally and having good management.

“CITA directors have always maintained that expanded facilities is not the end all and be all to delivering on positive airport experiences and have advocated for better proactive planning, with better agency staffing, technology applications and responsive operational monitoring; now, obviously, top-notch proactive facility management is also critical to on-going and long-term success of airport experiences,” added Leacock-Broderick.

“With extreme highs in the peak periods, coupled with continuing growth in stay-over tourism, along with continuing airport improvement works and the usual aviation disruptions, it’s safe to assume only that there will never be a dull day in airport management,” she added, while acknowledging the difficulties in managing such complex facilities.

She said that, as partners in tourism, CITA offered encouragement and support to ORIA. Nevertheless, it is clear that the organisation has concerns about how the recent issues are impacting the stay-over sector.

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Category: Business, Tourism

Comments (98)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Why do you expect good customer service at the airport when the majority of staff are Fillipinos and Jamaicans. They do not care about representing Cayman in a good way make no mistake they are here ONLY for a paycheck to send home every payday.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I disagree, most Filipinos have customer service skills that far exceed those of locals. As to Jamaicans, it depends. But neither are less adept than Caymanians.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Well at least DeWayne Seymour isn’t in charge of the airport. Think about that 🤔

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Fix the damn dump CITA!

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Ever since dart came the island has gone down the tubes

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    • Anonymous says:

      ?… you would not want to see cayman without the investment from dart in the last 15 years…..

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      • Anonymous says:

        I did, and whilst I have nothing against Dart, the Caymanian people were much, much better off before most of these investments. Participation in the economy was much more evenly and widely distributed.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The airport would function properly, proper water management, proper AC ability etc if Dart had built it.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    I booked months ago to go to Toronto on AA. This week a friend asked to send the itinerary. I was kicking myself reading it as somehow I only booked the MIA-YYZ leg.

    How could this be? So i looked for an email confirmation… Sure enough I was booked to leave Cayman… TUESDAY Sept 17. No mail from AA suggesting alternate (shame on them!) travel days/flights. Fortunately I got on this early, and was able to change the flight to Monday (no early flights Wednesday of course).

    For me, a minor problem that I caught in time. But believe me all those Monday and Wednesday flights will book out quickly and some of us and our visitors will be left in the lurch.

    So as we talk about a well managed airport… Closing from 10:00 pm Monday night to 7:00 am Wednesday morning from September 3 to October 22 is a prime example.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Perhaps you can suggest better closing times other than the quietest flying period , to extend and upgrade the runway.

      • Anonymous says:

        Name one place where the country is an island and the only airport closes for an entire day to work on the runway, The could eliminate the early flights and the late flights and operate during the day from 10-8 and have a night shift accomplish the work. No need to remobilize equipment and get the entire job done with three weeks.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    In departure checkin, there are too many “professional” airport staff (airline and security) milling around, uncertain of their own function, in the way, needlessly requesting passport IDs like they have some immigration function, challenging the reason for our travel, partitioning checkin areas that people are trying to leave, and generally obstructing and impeding normal airport passenger flow. It slows everything down. I was asked for my passport 6 times yesterday. That’s way too many times.

    Once in the back, lounges are about 5 degrees too hot. Turn the dial on the wall down 5 degrees.

    We’ve gotta regularly audit our arrival and departure experiences, not just at the airport, but at the cruise terminal and our daily attractions. No exit surveys. There doesn’t seem to be any interest or pride in improving our own experience quality or performance, and that’s what really sucks the most.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You are so right. Many of them standing around as you are undressing as they are pulling your bags apart pressing your clothes and feeling around for whatever contraband that I am sure they find all the time while several more stand around watching the fun.
      And no, they are NOT friendly nor smiling nor helpful. Man ahead of me with a wooden cane struggling because they wouldn’t allow him use of it through the metal detector. They just stood there watching him struggle. It was so sad.
      I spoke to him on the other side and said he should request wheelchair assistance just to get through security. But then they’d probably make him get up and struggle through anyway.
      Why can’t everyone just be NICE!!! SMILE, you too are part of our tourism product!!

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  7. I read books, watch no TV and use landline. says:

    Damped down Intelligence. Digital pseudo debility.

    “Such effects are already seen today. Even today you could notice how people understand the things that come to them with far greater difficulty than they did a few decades ago”. Rudolf Steiner, 1924 (Austrian philosopher)

    How difficult it is to make a decision when you see an overcrowded airport? Water, chairs, fans and toilets immediately come to my mind. And I am just a lay person.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Well, with all of the over runs (costs and water), it looks like the well IS managing tings!!

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  9. Anonymous says:

    To 12/07 4:23am – So, because PWD and/or the Projects Office is designated the responsibility to oversee public development projects, the “client”, i.e the CIAA management should just sit back and fold their hands??!!

    There are many issues with that airport project which the public doesn’t know, many of which ballooned the costs and which could have been minimized had the management had more experience and/or taken more interest in overseeing the QC and value-for-money aspects of the project. Sorry, they’re not “specialists”! Some people know!

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Welcome to the third world.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    It seems people are learning that this government is useless.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    At the end of the day folks CIAA team are good at managing airports, that’s their specialty.

    However who should be questioned here is PWD or their Projects Office who are brought in to act as advisors to any department they assist with capital projects. I presume I’ll get a thumbs down for this but that’s where the questions should be directed to. They are there to manage the designers and ensure the client in this case CIAA is being asked the right questions, manage the process ensuring the client will get not just what they want but also what they need ie. More efficient ac units or what not.
    But as usual in Cayman we miss the point of holding the correct parties accountable.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    London Heathrow airport this ain’t!!
    I wouldn’t like to think how they’d run that. In all fairness, this is a very small island even though there’s a vast amount of tourists landing here daily. It doesn’t look as if the right consultation advice has been put in place in both the structure and how to accommodate a high volume of passengers in an efficient and comfortable way. It would have paid to send this management prior to their control to such airports of Miami or London to learn how things should be done efficiently.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    This Unity Government has to be replaced come next election. The WORST government that has been in the LA.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Changing the order of addends does not change the sum.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Nothing improves in CI politics until the pond is deepened and/or qualification standards raised beyond having a Caymanian Granny.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I wonder who/what would fill the vacuum left by the current government…. you sure you want them to go?

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    • Anonymous says:

      change to what….?….have you seen the opposition????

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      • Anonymous says:

        Let’s hope we get some new blood next election. The next generation that’s been exposed to the world through travel and education. Educated in the environment, basic human rights, and planned and controlled development. Or God help us……Or is it too late?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Ouch!

  16. Anonymous says:

    the only good thing about the airport fiasco is that it proves that cig should never be let anywhere near the building of cruise docks in cayman.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Looks hot and frowzy in there!

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Please stop Filipinos with unintelligible English tell us which plane. It creates confusion. The dialect is totally alien.
    When I am in Manila, I will expect a Filipino voice.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Well, find someone with a Caymanian accent that is willing and able to do the job responsibly. I’m sure WORC has plenty of qualified caymanians who can do the job…wait…sorry, that’s a bit of an oxymoron isn’t it? WORC/ qualified caymanians?

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    • Anonymous says:

      The filipinos are always helpful and smiling. Try get that at the kx desk!

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    • Say it like it is. says:

      A large number of Filipinos work as check in agents at American (and possibly other airlines as well). I have always found their English and their standard of service excellent. The airport has a number of operational problems which are the responsibility of management, all of whom are Caymanian with some of the highest salaries in the public sector.
      Racist comments such as those from 7.13pm do not address the problems at the airport. If this person wants to hear a Caymanian voice go to the CIAA and ask why the airport has come under so much criticism from passengers.

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      • Anonymous says:

        It is not a racist comment. Accents are sometime difficult to understand and that frustrates people. But generally Filipino accents is easier to understand than Indian.
        The main reason for the success of the Philippine call centres is that workers speak English with a neutral accent and are familiar with American idioms. But Philippines can’t compete with India when it comes to producing highly skilled workers in science and engineering.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Your written language isn’t much better!

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    • Anonymous says:

      What do you expect when one company is now basically doing all the handling work at the airport. Seems all they want are the lower cost workers so they can have more profit for themselves. The whole thing is run on a buddy system anyway!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Just because you can understand Bush does not mean everyone that gets off a plane here can. I have no trouble understanding a Filipino talking english. But then again I am not racist.

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    • Anonymous says:

      as a caymanian and employer, i will take a filipino over a local any day.
      good work ethic and basic manners goes along way….

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      • Say it like it is says:

        9.16am As an English expatriate I commend your comment which echoes the response made by Charles Kirkconnell many years ago when he was among the first employers to bring in Filipinos, when he was running the supermarket.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Dear Caymanian employer, 9:16 am, although the “good work ethic and manners” are appreciated, i would prefer that the money you paid your workers stayed in the local economy so that it might be spent at my business, and in turn spent again in yours.

        Sometimes I go out and look at the staff and think. “is that the best we can do?” All it takes is a look at the Western Union or Moneygram line up on payday. We have not brought, “the best of the best” to this island, and while they are here for hopefully a limited time they are draining the economy of cash.

        With a growing local population, you mister employer need to try a little harder to hire local people.

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    • Anonymous says:

      If you were in Manila you would be welcomed with smiling faces, friendly people and almost everyone speaks good English. I love the filipinos, hard working people that integrate well. I have found them to be nothing less than very helpful at the airport. They are poorly paid, but remain happy.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The PA system is so bad, I can’t understand anything in any language or accent.

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      • Anonymous says:

        At least they aren’t getting everyone’s attention in the departure lounge anymore by – and this is true – picking up a phone connected to the PA system and pushing something like “3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3…9!”

        Yes, that really did happen. Some gate agents had their own special combinations or would just push 4 or 5 random numbers.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Well, yea, if I was trying to sell you a product, say a car, and my salesman put it through a wall, it would make my job a LOT harder. 😉

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  20. Anonymous says:

    good mangement in the cig civil service????……good luck with that…
    they struggle with an efficent parking ticketing system…..

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    • Anonymous says:

      I will agree that many civil servants do not pull their weight but please do not fool yourselves and put all the blame on them. So few realise the crap the civil servants have to put up with and how many times they have to go against their own judgement to satisfy the whim and wishes of their minister (s), who do not have a clue about the subject matter. Also they already have the mandates to fulfill, to satisfy their supporters and benefactors and they will stop at nothing to have their way. Many of the civil servants are smart and want to do a good job but they are prevented by the ministers and other handlers. If civil servants could tell their stories many of you would be surprised. Some of them are well educated and have much experience but their hands are tied. Imagine how they must feel at the end of the day. No wonder they get disillusioned and frustrated. How would you like to be the underdog for some of these ministers, especially some of the present ones. Most times the civil servants has the knowledge and expertise but they are prevented by their jealous and condescending bosses who unfortunately is below par. Do not kid yourselves and think it only happens here,it is a worldwide practice. If you doubt me, go watch some TV and go watch some documentaries on various governments, past and present around the world.

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      • Voice Male says:

        8.43pm Extreme irony, Caymanian civil servant blaming Caymanians. If your colleagues are so well educated and smart, how come they never answer their phones, unless it’s connected to their private business operations run on taxpayer’s time and money.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    This is craziness at it peak. They could have built a beautiful efficient airport to accommodate visitors comfortably but no; they had to do this rinkydink ugly inefficient grain barn looking hot mess. They could have gone up a few floors, with easy access escalators and bridgeways and proper air conditioning to give our travelers as much comfort as possible. I believe they cut back on the amenities so that they could go ahead and get their dock which will only destroy George Town. Imagine they prefer to put the money where it will have the most negative impact. I believe we would have a more practical outcome if the airport was under a different ministry from tourism. Perhaps then each minister would fight for the best for his or her ministry.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with the analogy of the airport should have been at least 2 floors. It was 2 floors to begin with. The cutback isn’t the port its the 100 million dollar school in town that will not produce proper education. We need a trade school. But we still have parents who believes their child will be a lawyer or an acct.

  22. Anonymous says:

    It seems nothing was learned from Ivan. The terminal was useless and people boarded flights at the KX hangar. The new terminal is still the same height and will flood again. Why on earth it did not follow the pattern of two levels, one for arrivals and one for departures we will never know.

    There are fews airports immune to delays, one would have hoped that this would have been considered, but it appears not. We have built an airport with more space, but it is already reaching capacity, not very forward thinking.

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    • Anonymous says:

      5.09pm FYI the recent flooding had nothing to do with the elevation of the airport or the Terminal. There was no sea water or ground water intrusion into the building.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Never said it was. The point I was making was the elevation vs hurricane sea levels. The recent flooding was not the topic.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Yes we know that the flooding had nothing to do with the elevation, but that is still very much a valid point. Water will always come from the North Sound and South Sound through there – it does every disaster. They should have went up a few floors, I do agree with poster 5.09; I also agree with the two level pattern for arrival and departures as well.

        It was done the way it was done to say that they did it. Just another ribbon cutting, shaking hand exercise. Don’t forget that the Royals were here as well.

    • Anonymous says:

      5:09, The answer is they went on the cheap rather than going with the more costly but realistic modern solution which was the Canadian built airport.

      In the end, we will all pay a price for such a short sighted approach.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The powers that be decided to go with the one level proposal rather than the modern 2 level terminal that the Canadians proposed, because it was 35 to 40% cheaper. Every modern airport is now 2 levels. Also they saw no need for skybridges to keep everyone dry, which was another short sighted move.

      We seem to have an unlimited amount of money for a new port at between $250 / $300 million but with the airport, we went super cheap with a band aid solution. Now we need to look at another round of upgrading and expansion.

      Certainly do not understand the CIG logic though I assume the locals had to be taken care of.

  23. Anonymous says:

    If the brainiacs designing and the idiots signing for the “new Airport”, had a lick of sense, they could have saved all this mess from happening. Why the hell did we need those huge arches using tons of steel? Using a more sensible design, they could have had 10 jetways with the money spent on those things. I guess it was another case of “you have an open wallet” to the designers. Ahhh, like the monkey said looking down from the tree “my people”.

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    • Anonymous says:

      To put it bluntly, the airport and dock should be relocated from the capital. The cargo dock should be placed in west bay near turtle farm and the airport in east end. I fancy the more diplomas and certificates one gets the more the lose their common sense. Think of the synergies that would solve by implementing these two projects at the end of the island? Traffic problem solved, hurricane issues with the dock and the airport would not exist, the environment and reefs spared and the list goes on.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I would agree to some extent, but believe the cargo facility should be over in east end where there is more space and less residential. The fuel depot could be be moved from south sound into the same location and switching to natural gas from diesel with the addition of a pipeline. George Town need residential buildings, beatification and coordinated events to thrive. I’m sure a cruise pier would help to some extent but the cost and damaged to the environment is prohibitive. The cruise pier could be situated in West Bay where the Turtle Farm and neighboring businesses would benefit.

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    • Anonymous says:

      We are all about the golden Arches. The round roof of Vehicle licensing, but my favourite is the round roof garage at the container port for the x-ray truck that has never been parked inside.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Wait till the same Ministry is responsible for the cruise berthing project to be built in deep water. God help this country

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    • Anonymous says:

      Yep, you are right – if they cannot put their brains together and do a modern airport – what sort of clown show can we expect with cruise berthing – UK please step in and stop the madness.

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  25. Anonymous says:

    With the increase in flights and exposure that CITA wanted, one would have thought they would have expanded the airport and not just made it a shiny expensive new looking turd. One would have thought that with all the money being spent, they could have afforded a few jet bridges so people wouldn’t have to board or exit the plane in bad weather, but hey, the correct pockets got their grease so all is well right?

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    • Anonymous says:

      ” but hey, the correct pockets got their grease so all is well” Guess you’re not giving it back eh.

      • Anonymous says:

        @12:09 Not I, I had nothing to do with that shiny turd. I’ve been in it twice, once coming and once going and the departure lounge is a joke.

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  26. Anonymous says:

    2;53 pm, i wonder

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  27. Anonymous says:

    Can the airport management please have some crowd control when arrivals exit into the terminal .
    Greeters block the way , and the line to the car park ticket machine tails back to the customs exit adding to the confusion.

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  28. Anonymous says:

    They have been running an undersized, overcrowded airport for years, how the hell could they not know how to respond to a sudden change in situation? It happens quite regularly with northern winters or storms affecting flights, storms in this area and even Air Control breakdowns. This is nothing new, but the new airport should be better equipped to deal with it….not sure after recent issues that is true.

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  29. Anonymous says:

    Imagine what a $hit show that place will be if we have a threat of a hurricane!

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    • Anonymous says:

      They are only doubling down on getting the dock instead of giving us a world class airport because so many of us are against the dock in George Town. According to reporting the airport was overrun by some 20,000,000 dollars and look at what we got. they don’t give a hoot what happens to George Town and what is even worse they don’t seem to care that the very people they want to benefit by going ahead with the dock will be the first to be wiped out if a major hurricane comes by after all the dredging is done. Stupid is as stupid does!!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Hope they have plenty of sick bags, poop/piss bags and body bags on hand.

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  30. Anonymous says:

    CITA is absolutely correct – the primary problem at the airport is the lack of experience of its management team. When they had experience in house they created conditions which caused that experience to leave. It’s called “loss of institutional memory”. But politics, personalities and Lodge connections made it this way. Tek wha unna get!!

    Happy that CITA has called them out!

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    • Anonymous says:

      This isn’t an overnight issue, it is widespread in the public sector. People always feel threatened when competent people come on the scene and accomplish more than they did for years in a short period of time, and show them up and their inadequacies generally. Then they go to their puppet master and tell him a bunch of lies because they are insecure, and the puppet master assists in the removal of the threat. Karma eventually takes care of such issues.

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  31. Anonymous says:

    Who is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA)?

    CNS: According to the CIAA website, the board chair is Thom Guyton.

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