Broken planes challenge CAL fleet

| 25/01/2016 | 13 Comments
CNS Business

Cayman Airways Boeing 737-300 (VP-CKW)

(CNS Business): Cayman Airways Ltd has said that problems over maintenance time, missing parts and damage by a ground vehicle in Tampa caused the many delays and cancellations over the holiday period and beyond. Over the last few weeks around 10% of flights were either rescheduled or delayed by more than two hours and 1% of flights were cancelled due to a number of challenges to its aircraft, the airline said.

One of its four Boeing 737-300 (VP-CKW) aircraft returned to Cayman last week, having been overseas for heavy maintenance. Originally due back more than a month ago, CAL said the delay was due to the need to get particular special order parts.

“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,” said the airline’s 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,” he said.

“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,” Whorms added.

Admitting that the past month had been challenging for the national flag carrier, Whorms said passengers were delayed because, despite taking into consideration the possibility of redundant aircraft into the schedule, having a plane out of service for such a long time placed tremendous pressure on the network, especially over the Christmas and New Year period.

To avoid what could have been even more delays and cancellations, the airline chartered aircraft to operate 5% of the flights.

Things were compounded for CAL when another jet was removed from service last weekend after being damaged by a ground service vehicle in Tampa, leaving Cayman Airways with only two of its four B737 jets. That plane is expected to return to service late next week following repair and restoration work currently underway in the US.

Thanking passengers for their patience and understanding, Whorms said CAL would be back to its full fleet and ability to deliver on time performance soon.

“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,” the airline boss added.

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Category: Local Business, Transport

Comments (13)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Older than dirt I wonder how they can still get away with landing in Miami

  2. Anonymous says:

    And while chaos ensues with scheduling due to maintenance where is the director of maintenance?

    He goes home to Miami every weekend and doesn’t come back until Monday lunch time as he has done for years and got away with it.

  3. Jus da fax says:

    “CAL said the delay was due to the need to get particular special order parts” Particular special order parts for a Boeing 737; the world’s most popular aircraft? Was he really able to say that without laughing?

  4. Anonymous says:

    privatise cal asap……

  5. Anonymous says:

    The fleet is far too old and it makes me think twice about booking with CAL. It’s a shame as I think it’s a fact tactic airline with great service but the fleet age is worrying.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Interesting. I met an American pilot on Monday. He was here on holiday and his flight back to the states was Monday. He was told that his flight was cancelled because of Hero’s Day. If this is true shame on you Cayman Airways.

  7. Bluff Patrol says:

    Someone tell me how scheduling major maintenance during the high-season makes sense…

    • Anonymous says:

      He talks of ‘heavy maintenance’. That tells me that this was a ‘D’ check. These take up to two months. There aren’t many shops that do this type of check and I would be pretty confident that CAL is not a priority customer for the maintenance outfit so had to work around their scheduling given that they can’t risk going beyond the hours without the check because that will just ground the plane. They probably planned this c2 years ago and were offered this slot and decided they couldn’t risk waiting to see if a better one came up.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Is this one of the 737s CAL are planning to buy?

    • GR says:

      I believe these planes were bought. Now we’re stuck with old planes that need difficult-to-find parts.

      • Anonymous says:

        They’re still showing as leased from ILFC. If that is not the case someone at CAL made a big foul up here.

        If this is typical of the problems we are going to have then CAL got screwed. The 737-400 went out of production in 2000 (the CAL aircraft are a lot older) and if major parts are already unavailable on the new or part-out markets that is not encouraging.

  9. anonymous says:

    Blah Blah Blah. Unacceptable. No excuse.

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