CIAA U-turns on night-flight restrictions at Brac airport

| 03/06/2024 | 28 Comments
Cayman Airways office at the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport on Cayman Brac

(CNS): A shortage of air traffic controllers at the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport on Cayman Brac led to the cancellation of Cayman Airways’ weekend direct flights from Denver, Tamp and Miami and to Grand Cayman. The Cayman Islands Airports Authority had allowed CKIA to remain operating beyond its 7:00pm closure time to accommodate these flights but recently told the airline that the restrictions would be reinstated.

CNS submitted questions to the CIAA on Friday, and on Sunday, the airport released a statement announcing that it was “working on solutions” and would “accommodate Cayman Airways’ jet flights” from 7 June.

CAL issued a notice to passengers Friday evening stating that certain jet flights to and from Cayman Brac on Saturdays and Sundays would be discontinued as the CIAA had said it could no longer extend its operating times for these flights because of limited air traffic controllers (ATCs). Currently, the Cayman Islands Airport Authority has 17 fully trained ATCs, most of them based at ORIA due to the higher level of air traffic.

CNS asked the CIAA to explain the problems with air traffic controllers and when and how this would be resolved. In a statement issued on Sunday, the authority confirmed that the problem was a shortage of trained ATCs.

The Overseas Territories Aviation Requirements (OTARs) include specific provisions for air traffic controllers’ working hours. The aim is to “mitigate fatigue and enhance the performance and safety of air traffic controllers by ensuring they are well rested and capable of performing their duties effectively”.

The CKIA’s normal operating hours are from 7:00am until 7:00pm. However, in November last year, the CIAA permitted the airport to operate beyond these hours at the weekends to accommodate Cayman Airways’ request for direct jet flights from Denver on Saturdays and from Miami and Tampa on Sundays along with return flights to Grand Cayman.

The CIAA said that because of the time it takes to become a licensed ATC, it started recruiting local trainees. In September 2019, four were sent overseas for training, but only one successfully completed the course and was certified. Eight more Caymanian ATC trainees were hired early last year, including three for the Brac airport.

“They are currently on a training course that is expected to be completed in December 2024,” the CIAA said in the release. “They will then have six to eight months on-the-job (OJT) training before they can become fully licensed to perform ATC duties at the relevant Airport. However, since the beginning of 2023 several staff movements within the Air Traffic Control team have occurred, which include resignations, retirements and extended medical leave. These changes have resulted in some limitations to its air traffic services (ATS) in order to maintain compliance with regulations for ATS operations.”

The CIAA said it had discussed the limitations with Cayman Airways in March and that restrictions to out-of-hours operations could be the result. “To mitigate these challenges, the CIAA has been negotiating with a retired air traffic controller for the past two months to provide direct support to CKIA in the short term. Unfortunately, due to personal circumstances, the negotiation fell through, which added to the challenges,” the officials added.

However, the CIAA said it was “working on solutions to immediately address the out-of-hours limitations and will continue to accommodate Cayman Airways’ jet flight schedules on the weekends in the short-term, effective 7 June 2024, while it develops a longer-term solution”.

CIAA CEO Albert Anderson said the authority was committed to maintaining the highest standards of safety and security. “We are also committed to ensuring we comply with the applicable rules and regulations that govern our airport operations. We understand that these changes impacted the travelling public over the weekend, and we apologise for any inconvenience this may have had on their travel plans.”

He noted that the CIAA was continuing the collaboration with Cayman Airways to maintain the weekend jet service to and from the Brac.

See the Cayman Airways release and flight details here.

See the full CIAA statement below:

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Comments (28)

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  1. Anon Bracker says:

    Cayman Brac’s airport promoted an air traffic controller to Manager of the Airport. They could have asked him to stay on until another was hired. What is this about shutting the airport on weekends? Sounds like Grand Cayman shutting down more business activity for the Brac. Cayman Brac was handed a crumb by getting a few direct flights into the Brac from Miami. There is no direct flight from Brac to Tampa. Can people please speak up for Cayman Brac getting a few more opportunities?

  2. Anonymous says:

    “the authority was committed to maintaining the highest standards of safety and security”. A cringeworthy statement at best by which no one is impressed. What exactly are the ‘highest standards’. How is it measured?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Are these airline guests/hostages that are trying to get to Grand Cayman, told before boarding the aircraft that they will actually be landing in a backwater, at night, without ATC safety and support? Is this the best first impression of how things are done in the Cayman Islands?

  4. Anonymous says:

    So the pass rate for the ATC candidates was 25% ? So to get two or three new controllers we need to pay to send 12 candidates for training?

  5. Anonymous says:

    CIAA needs to explain their ATC shortages to the public. This has never happened before. Imported controllers from Guyana and Jamaica are now the majority at ORIA.


  6. Anonymous says:

    Don’t mess with JuJu’s evening flight.

    She has to get home irrespective of whatever kinda shortages.

    Hope she soon stays over there permanently!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I can just imagine the hordes of passengers coming to the Brac from Denver!

    Can’t make this crap up!

    • Anonymous says:

      Let’s also get them to land in a backwater in the dark without ATC. After the “well folks…” Captain announcement, please don’t forget to leave a great Tripadvisor review!

  8. Anonymous says:

    And there ladies and gents is proof that the Brac has FAR, FAR too much sway over the rest of our lives.

    Disgusting and at this point the brac is half Jamaican and Honduran after the retirement home on sea and their baby mamas and brats clogging up the NAU.

    2000 population and a 50 million dollar school and international flights!!!! In a few places in the world they would have been forcibly removed from the Island forced to live in Grand. They probably should be so that jobless camp they call an island can be turned into a nature reserve instead of their god bothering masons lording over the democratic masses.

    • Anonymous says:

      Alright, simmer down, Brac basher. Julianna is unna match though.

    • Anonymous Bracker says:

      7:59? You have insulted Brackers in every possible way. We hold our own integrity and dignity as Christian folk on our little Island.
      We are proud of the strides that Cayman Brac has fought for and won. We have our own Hospital that we paid for and built ourselves. We have Brackers in high positions on Grand Cayman. God has provided for us and he will continue to care for us and we forgive your terrible comments about us upstanding Brackers.
      You all should be praying to God for our leaders because none of us are perfect. We ask God now to lead us as we put Him first for our success on Cayman Brac and for all of you too on Grand Cayman.
      Get busy over there mentoring your young people.

  9. Guido Marsupio says:

    Moses musta’ had him a sh*% fit! (Worked though)

  10. Anonymous says:

    You mess with the Brac’s jet service and see what happens.

    Remember. CAL started out as Cayman Brac Airlines.

    It would be nice though if CAL didn’t fill up the Twin Otters with people going to the Brac. You can barely get to Little Cayman these days.

    No seat. No vote!

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank God Kenneth’s stupid ego feeding vanity waste of money Barbados junkets have been terminated. That releases a 737 for more useful routes.
      Brac is far more important than Honduras and it’s time to serve the needs of Cayman travelers rather than service politicians needs pandering to the 3rd world… Jamaica included.
      Make them connect through Miami, the US visa requirements alone would weed out some undesirables.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Can’t they run traffic control for the Brac from Owen Roberts?

    • Anonymous says:

      not without a radar.

      • Anonymous says:

        Absolute rubbish.
        Plently of airports dont have radar and are completly unmanned. The Brac airport is just a place for the unemployed to get jobs.

        • Anonymous says:

          Pretty sure our ATC boys are all just looking at FlightRadar24 on their phones, just like everyone else.

        • Anonymous says:

          Somebody run the numbers – how many jobs on Cayman Brac and how many are Government jobs?

          Don’t worry about outputs for the salary, dat don matter.

        • Anonymous says:

          Not flying commercial passenger jets. It’s not a Cessna on a day trip.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Drop mid-day flights (CAL Express), run two ATC shifts, problem solved. Off to take a siesta now.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are no mid-day flights.

      • Anonymous says:

        If there are no mid-day flights already, then even easier. But, if there are no mid-day flights then why is the Brac ATC open from 7am – 7pm?

        I assume for the 10am and 3pm CAL Express flights (times approximate, and round trips, so one leaves the Brac at 11am most days, close enough to a mid-day flight to use the term I suggest)

        So, keeping it simple and calling it 6 hours on duty for a full shift (for safety no one wants a tired ATC), do two shifts/teams (half-day for each team) Morning, 7am – 10am; evening 4pm-7pm. By eliminating 10am – 4pm (6hrs) you free up two half-shifts that can be redeployed to the weekend night (8pm & 9pm from GCM, 7:20pm from Denver) jet flights (which are the only ones affected anyway) and giving redundancy (vacation & illness) for the other shifts. With minimal disruption to CAL Express connectivity.

        Like I said, simple. Oh, look, its siesta time again. Helps with the old cogitation you know.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Has any ATCs left CIAA in the past 3 months from Charles Kirkconnell International Airport? It took CIAA 4 years to get around to hiring more prospective controllers?

    • Anonymous says:

      No jackass…. the first set they tried to train couldn’t hack it and failed. Word class public education… led by who? Juju.

    • Anon says:

      Listen 12:22. You know that they hired Josh Burke, an Air Traffic Controller at Brac and promoted him to Airport Manager. Maybe they should have kept him on until they could have hired more persons in this position? This seems very strange and sounds like Grand Cayman running the show. They always do. Cayman Brac cannot get ahead because of the GC politics!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Is anyone surprised by this U turn?

  15. Anonymous says:

    That’s great news for these high performing revenue generating flights.


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