(CMR) Cayman Airways flight KX882 to La Ceiba, Honduras this morning was delayed because the Honduras Airport Authority has lowered its airport safety rating at the La Ceiba Goloson International Airport due to a shortage of fire trucks available from a Category 7 to 6. The last-minute change caused passengers to be temporarily at the Owen Roberts International Airport stuck until CAL presented a solution.
It remains unclear how this will impact ongoing flights between the two countries.
CMR understands that in order for the Boeing 737-8 to fly into any airport there are safety requirements that dictate how many fire trucks are available in case of an emergency landing – which is a Category 7. Without that criterion being met the planes cannot enter that jurisdiction. Unfortunately, La Ceiba Airport Authority has had to deflect trucks elsewhere and decide to downgrade the airport's safety rating.
This caused the morning flight on the 737-8 to be canceled but CAL was able to accommodate the 80 or so passengers by using the Saab plane instead and allowing it to take two trips. The plane will now go to La Ceiba and return to take the remaining passengers later in the day.
Ironically, the decision appears to come with little to no warning as Cayman Airways flew into La Ceiba on Tuesday with donated relief cargo to assist persons recently devastated by a fire in the Bay Islands.
The categories are 1-10 and the larger the aircraft the higher the category the safety requirements for each category can be found on the ICAO Civil Aviation Organization's website.
Cayman Airways issued a statement sharing that:
The Goloson International Airport in La Ceiba, Honduras, has issued an official Notification To Airman (NOTAM), with no prior notice, effectively downgrading the airport’s operational capabilities to Category 6 with immediate and permanent effect, resulting in Cayman Airways not being able to operate its Boeing 737-8 jet aircraft into that airport.
“The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) defines the requirements for Aerodrome Rescue and Fire Fighting Service in several categories,” explained Captain Dave Scott, Cayman Airways’ Vice President of Flight Operations. “Cayman Airways’ jet operations require Category 7 or higher, which means that we cannot currently fly our B737-8 into La Ceiba. Incidentally, Roatan airport is not currently an option as they have also just been downgraded to Category 6 until December 7th, 2021.”
Paul Tibbetts, Executive Vice President of Finance and Commercial Affairs, said: “As a result of the inability to operate today’s jet aircraft to La Ceiba, today’s La Ceiba flight, KX882, which was scheduled to depart Grand Cayman at 10 am, will now be operated across multiple flights utilizing the airline’s Saab 340B+ aircraft between today and possibly tomorrow. Affected passengers are being notified and rebooked accordingly, and are being advised that this change in aircraft may impact baggage and cargo.”
Cayman Airways is currently reviewing its options for the ongoing operations of its Grand Cayman/La Ceiba route, and will provide further updates accordingly.