(CMR) Information requested under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act from the Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA) relating to the licenses, rights and services serves a greater public interest than the commercial interest in withholding them, Ombudsman Sharon Roulstone found.
An applicant under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act sought records from the Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA) relating to the licenses, rights and services for which the CIAA had authorized permission at two Cayman Islands airports since 2008.
The original FOI request focused on certain records at Owen Roberts International Airport and Charles Kirkconnell International Airport related to “ground handling services,” meaning any services provided to airport operations and/or customers on the ground, including baggage handling fueling, hangar services, and aircraft maintenance.
The CIAA had previously disclosed records related to the applicant’s request but withheld specific information contained in authorization letters sent to ground handling services providers, which it said related to private commercial interests. CIAA also deferred the release of draft ground handling agreements with service providers, as these were still being completed at the time.
The Ombudsman found that the commercial interest exemptions CIAA had claimed did not apply to the information requested in the authorization letters and other records. She found much of this information was already in the public domain and that the public interest in disclosing the records was greater than the commercial interest in withholding them. However, the Ombudsman upheld the deferral of the release of draft ground handling agreements until their completion.
The decision clarifies further the extent to which records of private sector service providers are exempted from release under the FOI Act weighed against the public’s right to know about private service providers’ agreements with the government.
“The promotion of public understanding of processes and decisions of public authorities, the promotion of the accountability of public authorities and the deterrence of maladministration…will be enhanced by disclosure of the redacted information,” the decision stated.
The full text of the decision may be found here. Any member of the public wishing to submit an appeal of a government decision on an FOI request may phone the Ombudsman at 946-6283 or email [email protected].