American and JetBlue Want More Flights to Havana, As Other Airlines Leave

Dec 11, 2017

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Since the Obama administration eased restrictions on travel to Cuba, airlines were quick to add destinations on the island nation to their route maps. Generally speaking, those moves may have proven to be too quick, as the market became oversaturated with options and demand decreased. As a result, airlines such as Alaska, Spirit, Frontier and Silver have pulled out of Cuba altogether, and JetBlue, American and Southwest have all scaled back service. Now, two of the carriers that have scaled back frequencies announced that they’re seeking to add additional Havana flights.

Contrary to some original moves to reduce Cuba flights, American Airlines and JetBlue have requested additional frequencies to Havana (HAV). Both American and JetBlue have asked the Department of Transportation to assign them the slots left vacant by the airlines that pulled out, plus others.

As reported by FlightGlobal, American has applied for seven additional weekly frequencies. In September, AA asked for 10 weekly frequencies so these seven are in addition to that — a total of 17. The carrier plans to use the additional frequencies to increase the number of flights between HAV and Miami (MIA).

In addition, JetBlue asked the DoT for seven additional HAV frequencies. The carrier plans to use the additional frequencies to launch a route between the island nation’s capital and Tampa (TPA), a route that’s currently only served by Southwest. Including these seven slots between TPA and HAV, the carrier has requested a total of 28 weekly frequencies to the city.

Delta has scaled back its service to HAV, which JetBlue claims should force Delta to hand over some of its weekly frequencies. The Atlanta-based carrier says that, as the result of new travel restrictions by the Trump administration on travel to Cuba, it’s seen traffic on its New York (JFK) to HAV route diminish.

We reached out to both American and JetBlue for comment but have yet to hear back.

With stricter restrictions in place for American tourists on getting to Cuba, the move to increase frequencies from both American and JetBlue is an interesting one. Both carriers had previously made reductions to Cuba routes, either operating with smaller aircraft or reducing service. While none of the frequencies have yet to be approved, seeing two airlines go further into the already-busy Havana market is an unexpected development.

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