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Alaska Airlines is terminating its short-lived Cuba service. The carrier announced on Tuesday that it’s ending its daily flight between Los Angeles (LAX) and Havana (HAV) in 2018.
Alaska’s last planned service to Cuba is scheduled for January 22, 2018. The carrier said that given last week’s government-imposed restrictions on Cuba travel for American citizens, it will end its one route. Alaska says that it “will redeploy aircraft used to serve Havana to markets with higher demand.”
Alaska began service from LAX to the Cuban capital on January 5, 2017. In all, the route will have operated for just over a year. The carrier estimates that 80% of its flyers to HAV did so under a people-to-people reason. Given the new policies, Alaska is predicting a drop in demand.
It’s no surprise that airlines haven’t gotten from Cuba what they expected. Since restrictions on travel to the island nation were eased in 2016, airlines were quick to jump on the new routes and frequencies — perhaps too quick, and market quickly became oversaturated. As a result, airlines began pulling out of Cuba — JetBlue, Southwest, American have all scaled back service. In addition, Frontier, Silver Airways and Sprit have ended service altogether.
Last week’s restrictions on Cuba travel will likely hinder airline profits. The newest regulations get rid of the people-to-people category for accepted travel to Cuba. Instead, those looking to visit must book a trip through a US-based and approved tour organization, and a tour organizer must accompany your group for the duration of the trip.
No longer will you be able to log on to an airline’s website and book a trip to Cuba. Given the new regulations, it’s entirely possible that more airlines will reduce frequencies to Cuba as it becomes less profitable. Note that if you’ve booked a trip to Havana with Alaska after January 22, the airline will either rebook you on another airline for no additional cost, or will refund the full cost of your ticket.
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