Cayman Islands poised to exploit added airlift

GEORGE TOWN, Grand Cayman -- Even before American Airlines' new weekend service between New York (Kennedy) and Grand Cayman gets off the ground, seat capacity has been boosted by an additional 40 seats.

A 757 aircraft with 176 seats replaced the smaller 737 craft originally planned for the route.

That bodes well for the route and customer demand, according to Pilar Bush, U.S. sales and marketing manager for the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism.

Bush hailed the twice-weekly American service "as a great convenience for New Yorkers, one that makes the Cayman Islands accessible from one of our key markets."

"It is essential for the growth of Cayman Islands' tourism to increase hassle-free service from more key U.S. gateways," Bush added.

The nonstop service begins June 15. The flights depart New York Saturdays and Sundays at 9 a.m. and arrive in Grand Cayman at 11:55 a.m.

The return flight departs at 1 p.m., arriving in New York at 5:34 p.m.

American offers three daily nonstops from Miami to Grand Cayman.

Other air services to the Cayman Islands include:

• Continental, five nonstop flights per week from Newark.

• American Trans Air, Saturday nonstop service from Chicago's Midway through Aug. 24. Air-and-land packages start at $599 per person for 10 hotels and several condominium facilities.

• Cayman Airways, daily service from Miami and several weekly flights from Tampa, Fla. and Houston.

• Delta, daily flights from Atlanta.

To help fill these seats, tourism officials will launch a six-month promotion May 1 called "H2GO! Find Your Element."

The plan offers savings of up to $1,100 when two people stay at least four nights in the Cayman Islands.

Included in the promotion is a My Element discount card that provides access to value-added programs with special rates, such as dive excursions, tour attractions and participating restaurants.

Officials said the off-season promotion is designed to highlight diversions beyond the destination's beaches and dive sites.

"The Cayman Islands are known for its water-based activities, but we also want to expose our visitors to golf, spas, fitness centers, art centers, musical entertainment, dining and shopping," Bush said. A companion promotion for travel agents will be announced shortly.

Details of the consumer programs and a copy of a vacation planning guide can be requested through the Web site, at www.caymanislands.ky/h2go.

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