Cayman Airways Retains Boeing 737-300s Amid 737 MAX Grounding

Cayman Airways has announced that it has no intention of selling any of its B737-300 aircraft before 2020. The aging airliners are still required to cover for grounded B737 MAXs, according to the Cayman News Service.


Cayman Airways 737-300
Cayman Airways is delaying plans to retire aging 737s. Photo: Cayman Airways

Plans remain

Commenting on the issue, a spokesperson told the Cayman News Service that, “despite the ongoing delay, CAL still intends to retire and sell its 737-300 jet fleet, though no aircraft are expected to be sold before 2020.”

The carrier had originally planned to sell all three of its B737 Classics by the end of this year, with the intention of replacing them with B737 MAX airliners. Cayman Airways had taken delivery of its first B737 MAX in November 2018, with the second arriving in March 2019. Further deliveries were due this month and in September of next year, with all four units being leased from Air Lease Corporation.

Cayman Airways 737 MAX
The grounding of the 737 MAX is the root cause of the delay. Photo: Cayman Airways

The B737-700 aircraft owned by Cayman Airways are nearly 25 years old on average, making them ripe for replacement. Cayman Airways also operates two DHC-6-300s and two Saab 340B aircraft via its Cayman Airways Express subsidiary.

However, despite delaying a decision on the Boeing 737 aircraft, the spokesperson for the carrier emphasized that plans to modernize the Cayman Airways fleet have not been shelved. The decision can instead be placed in the context of two brand new planes acquired by the airline being grounded, which has naturally created challenges.

Maintenance issues and the recent grounding of an older 737-300 model, following smoke being detected in its cargo hold, has necessitated some delays. But the spokesperson was keen to emphasize that these are indeed delays and not a cancellation of the carrier’s overall strategy.

“Despite the ongoing delay, CAL still intends to retire and sell its 737-300 jet fleet, though no aircraft are expected to be sold before 2020,” the spokesperson asserted.

Other reports have suggested that the grounded plane would be moved to the United States at a cost of $100,000, before being sold, but the airline has moved to refute these suggestions. The government-owned airline decried this figure as completely inaccurate while declining to discuss the precise commercial terms.

The carrier has moved swiftly to dispel controversy surrounding a flight that was grounded recently. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr.

Smoke panic

International media had reported that the aforementioned fire had caused panic aboard the Cayman Airlines aircraft, but the spokesperson for the carrier denied this suggestion. Indeed, Cayman Airlines has been at pains to point out that everyone aboard the aircraft exited safely, despite the expected challenge of some passengers failing to correctly follow instructions.

“CAL provides its staff with the necessary training to prepare them to deal with the immense pressure of quickly evacuating a full aircraft in a focused manner while giving urgent, clear and emphasized verbal instructions to passengers,” the spokesperson told the Cayman News Service.

As Simple Flying reported, the flight impacted by fire was forced to divert to Orlando, which was the closest airport at the time.