Crazy: 5 US Airlines Want To Add More Flights To Cuba

Filed Under: Travel

Last year Cuba was more or less opened up to American tourism, and as a result, we saw US airlines add an unsustainable amount of capacity between the US and Cuba. For a moment traveling to Cuba was the new hot thing to do, though as Americans began to visit, it became apparent that the country didn’t really have the infrastructure to support the huge immediate influx of tourism.

Given the competitive nature of starting flights to Cuba (there were a limited number of available frequencies, so airlines had to petition the DOT to get slots), airlines went all-in and requested way more slots than they could profitably operate. After all, it wasn’t just about adding capacity to Cuba, but about keeping Cuba capacity from their competitors.

Airline executives were constantly quoted as saying that they weren’t making money in Cuba yet, but that it was an investment in the future.

However, airline after airline cut frequencies to Cuba. We’ve already seen capacity cuts or cancelations altogether from AmericanJetBlueSilver AirwaysFrontierSpiritSouthwest, and Alaska. Furthermore, Delta has just announced that they’re reducing frequencies between New York and Havana to once weekly as of February 2018.

Most of these reductions and cancelations even happened before the Trump administration added further restrictions to traveling to Cuba.

So with airlines having given up some slots to Cuba, the DOT is tasked with reallocating them to other airlines. You’d think at some point airlines would say “nah, you can keep the Cuba slots,” but that’s not the case.

It has now been revealed which airlines have applied to take over the slots that Frontier and Spirit have given up to Havana. Specifically, the following airlines want to add the following flights to Cuba (which are in addition to their existing capacity):

  • American wants to add 16x weekly flights between Miami and Havana
  • JetBlue wants to add 6x weekly flights between Fort Lauderdale and Havana, 1x weekly flight between Boston and Havana, 7x weekly flights between Tampa and Havana, 7x weekly flights between New York and Havana, 7x weekly flights between Newark and Havana
  • Delta wants to add 7x weekly flights between Miami and Havana
  • Southwest wants to add 7x weekly flights between Fort Lauderdale and Havana
  • United wants to add 6x weekly flights between Houston and Havana

As I’ve said from the very beginning, the one market that has the potential to work long term is Florida (Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Tampa) to Havana, given the huge Cuban populations there. So who knows, maybe even with the added restrictions some of those flights make sense.

However, I can’t help but laugh at JetBlue’s requests. It goes without saying that they won’t be granted authority to operate all the flights. Typically airlines request way more than they actually want, recognizing they won’t be allocated all of those slots. However, I can’t help but laugh at what they’re requesting here, and I’d sure be amused if they were granted 14x weekly frequencies between NYC and Havana.

So we’ll see how the DOT rules on this soon, and whether airlines follow through on adding this service, in light of the current situation.

(Tip of the hat to LAXintl)

  1. Dont forget about the number of Cubans yearning to breathe free and visit new york and boston. it would be good for them to visit the birthplaces of freedom in this world.

  2. Once the operation rights , do you have obligation to starting operation in a short period? If they can postpone operation, then it is very reasonable move. Cuban has all kind of restriction now, but once it is completely open up, it is a legit winter vacation heaven for people living in northeast.

  3. Well, no surprise that “hub to Havana” is working and the others not. Havana is the only city with more than 1m inhabitants (in fact about 2.5m). Next comes Santiago with a mere 0.4m …

    There are not many latin american cities below 1m inhabitants which enjoy non stop service to/from the US (I guess Belize City is the only one which comes to my mind). Why would Cuba be different?

  4. Yeah I’m sure some points & miles blogger/airline cabin reviewer has a better idea of what makes a good business case for a given airline, than the airline itself.

  5. I think Southwest could definitely pull off 1-3x Weekly BWI-HAV, HOU-HAV, judging by the large scale vacation traffic hub points already established in those cities.
    JetBlue starting Newark-Havana is suicide. E190 CASM is already really high, and the RASM is essentially the same as a flight from the NY area to Florida. Why take the risk?
    If AA wants to add so many flights into Havana, they should really operate all those flights be Envoy, with E-Jet aircraft, creating a MIA-HAV Shuttle type of thing.

  6. We found Havana to be like one giant ghetto…much like Taipei & Tijuana. Until the politics change and capitalism is restored I wouldn’t suggest anyone waste their money.

  7. There is the reason people risk 90+ miles of open ocean with anything that flots to escape that heaven of communism

  8. Lucky after just returning from Cienfegous, Trinidad, and Havana. All I know there is one thing that I can’t get out of my head. Its something that a kind young Cuban lady said to me. She said I hope that the American people keep their hearts open that they can continue to visit. She said her Grandfather said you can always make more soup just add water. And you can put 10 people in my 2 bedroom apartment we will always be open and welcome you here.

  9. Things Europeans don’t understand – difficulties Americans have with accepting Cuba.

    Been there twice so far. First time out of curiosity back in 2007. Havana was OK. They tried to be a bit too commercial in a weird way. However, we also spent 2 weeks down south last winter, in Holguin area. It’s not only lovely there but the nature and sea, well, it’s the Caribbean!

    Anyway – just my 5 cents. Cuba is nice, depends how you look at it.

  10. We found Cuba to be overly expensive for what you get , poor food, poor transportation , expensive hotels , tacky Casas… there are lots of other cities in central and south America that are better value and more fun .

  11. Actually, wanting to go there is a pretty good indication of already having brain damage. As Jojo and Ken Hughes explained above. 😉

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *