Two U.S. Airlines Cancel Cuba Flights Because of Weak Demand

Airline-300x200 Two U.S. carriers—Silver Airways and Frontier—announced on Monday that they are planning to cancel their flights to Cuba. Silver Airways, which is based in Fort Lauderdale, said it made the “difficult but necessary” decision to stop flights to Cuba on April 22.

The airline wanted to fly to the nine cities outside Havana after the U.S. Department of Transportation authorized regular flights to the island, but demand was lower than projected. Frontier, which is based in Denver, shared similar sentiments when it announced it was canceling its flights to Havana on June 4 due to high costs and low demand. The airline said to the press that “market conditions have failed to materialize” in Cuba.

The low-cost carrier introduced flights to Cuba in December last year with a special one-way ticket price of $59 from Miami to Havana. It had wanted to make daily flights to and from Havana so passengers coming from Las Vegas and Denver could have easier connections in south Florida.

Several U.S. carries applied to the Department of Transportation for flights to the island believing that travel between the two countries would continue to open after former President Barack Obama renewed relations with Cuba. But the airlines overshot demand for flights to Cuba; many of them scheduled too many flights and used oversized aircrafts on the route.

American Airlines reduced its daily flights to the island from 13 to 10 last month, and JetBlue recently decided to put smaller planes on its Havana routes. Silver Airways, which was granted access to nine cities on the island by the Department of Transportation, used its 34-passenger aircraft on its Cuba routes. But according to Cuban Customs reports, it sometimes carried only three passengers to the island.

Cruise-Ship-300x183As airlines struggle, business for cruise lines making stops in Havana is booming. An estimated 172,000 U.S. tourists are expected to travel to Cuba this year via nine cruise ships from U.S.-based cruise lines.

Passengers on cruise lines don’t face many of the problems tourists who use airlines have to deal with. These issues include poor infrastructure, inefficient services, and lack of sufficient accommodation.

Cruise ships are stocked with food, accommodation, and all the modern conveniences most Cuban hotels can’t provide. Travelers can book in advance for a full package without having to worry about booking their lodging and planning meals and activities separately.

But the future of travel in Cuba remains uncertain. President Donald Trump has ordered his administration to review all the executive orders Obama signed to punch holes in the commercial, financial, and economic embargo the U.S. imposed on the island over 50 years ago.

The embargo is still in place—only Congress can lift it—but its rules were relaxed by Obama in 2014, allowing U.S. citizens to visit the island for cultural exchanges. Last year, it is estimated that 615,000 tourists from the U.S. visited the Caribbean island. That figure is expected to rise as Cuba makes infrastructure changes and possibly approves additional tourism to the island.

Sources: 3.13.17 U.S. Airlines Cancel Cuba Flights.pdf and 3.12.17 Cruises Enjoy Tourism Boom.pdf