(CMR) Jude Scott, former chairman of Cayman Airways (CAL), did not mince his words in a four-page resignation letter that was addressed to Minister of Tourism and Transport Kenneth Bryan. The scathing letter outlines multiple reasons why he resigned after just one year in the chairman role.
Ultimately he felt no real support from the minister and shared that there are “critical issues” that require his attention.
The first area of concern was Scott's inability to meet with the minister to discuss board-related matters. He noted that “I have found it increasingly difficult to get access to you.” He went on to accuse the minister of interfering with the board by going to other board members without his knowledge and instructing them.
Scott then details the areas he has already highlighted to the minister which he believes require the government's “urgent attention” but that has not been properly supported.
The first area of urgent concern relates to a report sent to the Ministry on March 11, 2022. According to Scott, the airline's Public Authorities Act (“PAA”) requires the government's urgent attention to provide the approvals and funding for CAL to be able to compensate its employees in compliance with the Public Authorities Act. He notes that this includes “matches the most recently announced civil service compensation increases.”
“It has been particularly disappointing that Government has not acted with urgency to ensure it provides Cayman Airways with the funding required to enable the airline to compensate its staff in the same manner as other Government employees as required by law.”
He questions the legality of this omission and opines that CIG may not be “delivering on its responsibility and legal obligation” to properly compensate its staff.
His third major point of concern is the dual destination policy, which the board was never informed of or consulted with. He notes that despite not considering CAL it is a decision that would directly impact the national airline. He shares that he is actually not of the opinion that it should be a priority for the Cayman Islands or CAL as it could have the unintended impact of “reducing Cayman's overall visitor nights by shortening visits to Cayman or redirecting protective Cayman visitors to other countries.
“The Cayman Islands should always focus on being “The Destination” … not a stopover hub for visitation to other countries.”
He goes on to address in detail other concerns about this policy initiative in his letter.
Finally, in part 4 of his letter, he addresses a variety of concerns with the Edward Bodden Airfield in Little Cayman, including expired leases, operational constraints and passenger limitations because of no licensed aerodrome airport operator.
For his part, Minister Bryan took to the airwaves during Friday's The Cold Hard Truth to defend his ministry, his lack of availability and the payroll issues. He disputed the need to give Scott and CAL more attention and noted that he was considering pulling his notes to see how many times he met with Scott. He noted that his chief officer was at every single board meeting on behalf of the ministry.
He shared that the staff at Cayman Airways are supported “in every capacity.” In terms of the alignment of salaries, he admitted this was an issue that needed to be addressed and that the Cayman Airways staff would be compensated per the law once the budget could be sorted out and the government could figure out how to address that issue. He noted, “I cannot give money that is not there.” but they are working to address the matter.
At one point, Minister Bryan shares that the Chairman was off the island, which resulted in board member Kris Bergstrom traveling with him to Jamaica and this might be part of the reason why he was upset.
However, CMR has learned that at no point was he ever asked to attend a meeting in Jamaica. Coincidentally a phone call was placed about another matter and that is how it was discovered that Scott was not in Cayman. The decision to take Bergstrom along had already been made. Sources close to the situation said that Scott knew nothing about dual destination being on any agenda for discussion.
Minister Bryan also denies that there is any dual destination policy in place. Instead, he shared that there were private informal discussions taking place. He denied that a policy was in place and that it would be between Jamaica. Ironically, travel publications have carried the story and confirmed that the Jamaican tourism minister is looking forward to signing a memorandum of understanding with the Cayman Islands.
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett said that this would support the regional tourism product and the issue will be further explored at the next meeting of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) in October this year.
“If the letter by itself is left out there to the public it's going to seem quite silly.”