Cayman Airways (KX, Grand Cayman Island) has received KYD16.3 million Caymanian dollars (USD19.8 million) in operational support as part of KYD621.9 million (USD758.4 million) in supplementary funding approved by the Cayman Islands Government for COVID-19 related relief.

The additional expenditure - covering the period from January to December 2020 and most of which has already taken effect - was detailed in a Supplementary Appropriation bill presented to the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly by Finance Minister Roy McTaggart on October 28, 2020. The government expected to end the 2020 financial year with an operating deficit of KYD168.7 million (USD205.7 million) as a result of the additional spending necessitated by the pandemic. This represented cash reserves equivalent to 65 days of expenditures, rather than the required operating surplus of 90 days of cash reserves.

Cayman Airways is the flag carrier airline of the British Overseas Territory of the Cayman Islands. With its head office in Grand Cayman Island, it operates international and domestic scheduled passenger flights with a fleet of eight aircraft, including two B737-300s, two B737-8s, two DHC-6-300s, and two S340B(Plus).

Airports on the Cayman Islands remained closed to all but essential travel until October 1, 2020. The only airlines permitted to operate until then were British Airways (BA, London Heathrow) and Cayman Airways, which carried out limited repatriation flights.

Cayman Airways, meanwhile, has maintained more than 400 staff on full pay during the crisis. Cayman Airways staff also received a KYD300,000 (USD365, 850) honorarium for work done and exposure to COVID-19 during the lockdown, according to local media reports. KYD40 million (USD48.7 million) was spent on mitigating COVID-19 and maintaining the UK-Cayman airbridge.

Meanwhile, the Supplementary Appropriation Bill also revealed the government provided a temporary loan of KYD20.9 million (USD25.4 million) to the Cayman Islands Airport Authority for work that included the strengthening and extension of the airport runway and apron, the removal of ponds next to the runway, and the establishment of a parallel taxiway and a perimeter road.

Although the Airport Authority had secured a KYD20.9 million (USD25.4 million) loan and overdraft facility from First Caribbean International Bank, the commercial loan must first be approved by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office, McTaggart said. Given that the Airport Authority had “close to zero” operating revenue due to the lockdown, the government would provide the loan amount until the commercial loan became available towards the end of 2020 to help the CIAA meet its operating and financial obligations, he said.

A further KYD23.1 million (USD28.1 million) was earmarked for financial assistance to the most vulnerable, displaced tourism workers and non-Caymanian residents, he said.