(CMR) Cayman Airways is set to resume its service to Panama this summer, starting 26 June 2023, with flights twice weekly.
Minister of Tourism Kenneth Bryan described the resumption of flights into the Latin American market as a strategic business and tourism move.
The Minister said he hopes this route will be a significant contributor to the Ministry's goal this year of getting 70 percent of the number of stayover visitors the country received in 2019.
Mr. Bryan said the Panama route will serve as a gateway into surrounding Latin American markets such as Colombia, Brazil and Argentina.
However, he said, the route will bring more opportunities than just tourism. He said:
“The service to Panama will provide the Cayman Islands with many other benefits. For example, the free trade zone in Colon which is located less than 50 miles from Panama City is the largest free port in the Americas.”
“It is dedicated to reexporting a wide variety of goods and merchandise from Panama to Latin America and the Caribbean. There are more than 3000 established companies in the zone representing an attractive option for travelers from a trade and business perspective,” he stated.
Mr. Bryan also explained that several Caymanian companies conduct business through Panama and having the convenient option of transporting products could result in a reduced cost of living in the Cayman Islands.
The airline will have 50 percent more cargo capacity than in the past which will allow businesses to bring in goods via this route.
CEO of Cayman Airways Fabian Whorms explained that the twice weekly flights will be on Mondays and Thursdays. Persons will be able to start booking flights for this destination later this month. The 1 hour and 50 minutes flight is expected to cost just under US$400.
Mr. Whorms also reiterated that this route provides a gateway to several other countries.
“The Tocumen airport is one of the best hubs in the world when it comes to connectivity and in transit travel,” Mr. Whorms said.
He said Cayman Airlines is partnering with COPA Airlines which has a very significant connectivity throughout Latin America. He further pointed out that Panama serves as far as Europe.
While this new route is expected to boost the number of visitors coming into the Cayman Islands, Mr. Whorms explained that some other routes will be affected. However, he said the effects will be minimal with small changes.
One route which will be affected is Havana, with flight frequency being reduced.
Mr. Whorms said Cayman Airways has confidence in this route and do not expect to operate as a loss, despite pulling out of this market previously.
He explained that the Panama route was discontinued in 2015 because at the time the Dallas service was launched and the airline needed to ensure that with the old fleet there was reliability and redundancy. A decision was taken then to cut the Panama route and focus on Dallas.
Mr. Whorms said this route could also boost medical tourism in the Cayman Islands.
“It's not just the typical leisure tourist…health tourism is something that is quite significant and its growing more and more all the time. We do know that we do get a lot of tourism in the form of medical tourism from Latin and central America. With this service we are creating an environment that will allow that sector of our tourism sector to grow even more,” he stated.