They’ve only just begun, but two airlines are already saying adios to Cuba
HAVANA – It appears to be a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth – at least for two US airlines which are dropping its planned routes because they say with so many other airlines adding flights to the Spanish-speaking Caribbean nation, the routes are unprofitable.
Silver Airways is dropping all nine of its planned routes by April 22, just six months after it started flying between Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and several Cuban cities. Low-cost carrier Frontier will follow suit on June 4, dropping its Miami-Havana route.
After the US gave the nod to regular passenger flights to Cuba resuming about six months ago, for the first time in 50 years, US carriers rushed in to cash in on the expected boom in US travel to Cuba.
But that has created a glut in airlift, and it’s not working out for some carriers.
Silver spokeswoman Misty Pinson noted that the number of seats on planes between the US and Cuba tripled because the airlines added so many flights, many of them with big planes.
“While the actual total number of passengers currently traveling to and from Cuba on all carriers combined is in line with what Silver originally projected, other airlines continue to serve this market with too many flights and oversized aircraft, which has led to an increase in capacity of approximately 300 percent between the US and Cuba,” she said.
And spokesman for Denver-based Frontier, Jim Faulkner, said the airline was cancelling its flights because of heavy competition and higher-than-expected costs of providing service at the Havana airport.
While larger airlines are still flying to Cuba, they have also cut back. American Airlines reduced daily flights to smaller cities in Cuba from 13 to 10 and switched to smaller planes on some flights, but kept its service to Havana intact; while JetBlue took out about 300 seats a day by using smaller planes.
That is more a reflection of the glut in flights and not declining interest in travel to Cuba, according to statistics. About 285,000 tourists visited Cuba last year, up 76 percent from 2015, and the Cuban government says American visitors increased 125 percent in January.