The government of the Cayman Islands has announced plans to reintroduce transit visas for Cuban nationals after it discovered that only a quarter of those who travel via Grand Cayman Island used their return tickets to the island, sparking concerns that Cayman Airways (KX, Grand Cayman Island) is unintentionally abetting illegal immigration to the United States.

Data provided by the Cayman Islands Customs & Border Control and Workforce Opportunities & Residency Cayman bureaux indicate that out of 12,381 passengers originating from Havana International with round-trip Cayman Airways tickets between November 2021 and November 2023, only 3,116 actually returned to Cuba. Most of them booked flights via Grand Cayman onward to various countries in Central and South America.

The Caymanian government acknowledged the reality that some Caribbean states are pushing people to migrate to the United States and warned that the state-owned carrier's unwitting participation in the process carries many risks.

"Various risks to the Cayman Islands are attributed to the irregular migration of Cuban nationals; namely, reputational risk, risks of sanctions, risk of cancellation of routes for CAL, risk of visa restrictions for Caymanians and risk of increased applications for asylum by Cuban nationals in-transit," the government said.

As of August 5, 2024, all Cubans will have to apply for a transit visa to travel through Grand Cayman.

Cayman Airways currently operates 2x weekly between Grand Cayman and Havana, the ch-aviation schedules module shows. The airline did not respond to ch-aviation's request for comment.

The development comes amidst growing pressure from the US administration to curb various routes, especially by air, used by migrants to travel between Caribbean, South American, and Central American countries before they reach the US border.