JetBlue Becomes Second Airline to Cut Back on Cuba Flights

Feb 8, 2017

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Thanks to a last-minute cancellation by Silver Airways, JetBlue earned the distinction of being the first US carrier to fly a commercial flight to Cuba in 55 years. When that flight took off in August 2016, there was plenty of excitement from airlines, cruise lines and ferry operators about running routes between the US and Cuba. The problem is that travelers aren’t booking as many trips to the island as anticipated.

Back in December, American Airlines cut back capacity on its Cuba flights. Now, JetBlue is making a similar move. Effective May 3, it’s scheduling smaller aircraft on all of its Cuban routes.

JetBlue is keeping the same routes, but cutting back on capacity.

Through May 2, JetBlue has a 200-seat Airbus A321 scheduled on its New York (JFK), Orlando (MCO) and Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to Havana (HAV) routes. All three routes will see a reduction to JetBlue’s 150-seat Airbus A320. Meanwhile, flights from FLL to Santa Clara, Camagüey and Holguín are being reduced from the 150-seat A320 to a 100-seat seat Embraer E-190 on the same day. Between all six routes, that’s 300 less JetBlue seats per day flying to Cuba.

The timing is particularly interesting, as the change will go into effect near the beginning of the summer travel season. It seems that demand for JetBlue flights to Cuba is so weak that the carrier doesn’t think the peak travel period will make enough of a difference.

If you already have a JetBlue flight to Cuba booked for after May 2, it’d be a good idea to check your reservation and seat selections.

Bottom Line

It seems airlines overestimated how popular Cuba would be with US tourists. JetBlue is the second carrier to cut back capacity on flights to Cuba, and it likely won’t be the last. With so many empty seats on these flights, airfares to Cuba have remained cheap. If you’re interested in visiting, look into booking flights before carriers cut back to meet the weaker demand.

Featured image courtesy of Joe Raedle / Staff via Getty Images.

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