This week, Cayman Airways welcomed back into service one of its four Boeing 737-300 aircraft, VP-CKW following its latest heavy maintenance visit overseas. VP-CKW was originally due to complete its heavy maintenance check by mid-December, but experienced a month-long delay due to certain special order parts having to be obtained.
“Every Cayman Airways B737 jet undergoes planned periodic heavy maintenance checks at our approved overseas overhaul facility at certain times each year, usually during periods when operations can be sustained with one aircraft out of service,” explained President and CEO, Fabian Whorms. “During these heavy maintenance checks, the aircraft undergo extensive and highly specialised inspection, repair and replacement of components that do not meet the strictest of criteria. Overruns on these heavy maintenance checks are infrequent, but they do happen from time to time for various reasons. In this case, VP-CKW needed certain components specific to that aircraft which were originally fabricated and installed at manufacture, to be replaced. These types of replacement components are not generally held in stock by the aircraft manufacturer or aircraft component suppliers, and are only manufactured to order. Whilst the planned out-of-service time for our heavy maintenance visits has a buffer that takes this possibility into consideration, the time required for fabrication and installation of these particular components, pushed the completion date well beyond our expectations, even with our built in buffer.”
“The past month has been a challenging time for Cayman Airways and our passengers as a result of the delayed return to service of VP-CKW,” commented Executive Vice President in charge of Financial and Commercial Affairs. “We build redundancies into our schedule so we can recover if we have a plane out of service, but having a plane out of service for an extended period of time places tremendous pressure on our network, particularly when it is over the busy Christmas and New Year period. During this period, approximately ten percent of our flights were either rescheduled or delayed by more than two hours and one percent of our flights were cancelled and the passengers re-accommodated on other flights. We also utilized the services of charter airlines based on their availability to operate five percent of our flights in an effort to minimize the impact to our passengers of being short one jet.”
Although later than expected, the aircraft’s return to service this week from the heavy maintenance visit, is opportune, as another CAL jet was removed from service last weekend after being damaged by a ground service vehicle in Tampa, which temporarily left the airline with only two of its four B737 jets operational for a few days. The aircraft that was damaged in Tampa is expected to return to service late next week following repair and restoration work currently being accomplished in Tampa.
“We would like to thank our valued passengers for their patience and understanding during this past month” said President and CEO, Fabian Whorms “We will very shortly be back to our normal complement of operating aircraft with the full ability to deliver our usual high level of on time performance. We would like to reinforce that the safety of our operations is our first priority, followed by service delivery and that whilst delays and cancellations are very undesirable and inconvenient, there will always be occasional instances when a revised schedule or delays are necessary in order to safely transport our passengers to their destinations.”