Cuba hasn’t been very kind to U.S. Airlines. Or, rather, American travelers haven’t been kind to U.S. Airlines on their Cuba routes. Since Cuba was opened up to American airlines late last year, we’ve seen nothing but shrinkage and outright discontinuation of service.
(SEE ALSO: Adios amigos! 2 airlines ending service to Cuba)
All that said, we’ve got three airlines now wanting to add MORE service to Cuba. What?!
jetBlue: We’ve got a case of amnesia
You read that right–jetBlue wants even more flights to Cuba, specifically Havana, even after they downguaged all their flights to the country.
With the removal of two airlines in the Havana–Ft. Lauderdale area, jetBlue wants to add six more weekly flights between their South Florida hub and Cuba. But wait, what will they do with that last weekly frequency? Add a once weekly Boston-Havana route. Of course! Why didn’t I think of that? Given jetBlue admission that Cuba hasn’t been strong for them, I see this as a pure land grab. There’s no logical reason they’d want these slots, other than to wait out the dearth of tourists heading to Cuba. We’ll see if this is awarded, and if so, how long it lasts.
Delta: Don’t mind us, American
Delta is also looking to bolster their service in the South Florida market by adding a second daily frequency out of Miami. According to Delta in their DOT Filing:
Delta successfully launched service to Havana from three gateways (Atlanta, New York-JFK, and Miami) on December 1, 2016. Delta has maintained daily service in each of its three awarded gateways and has made significant investments in order to provide airport services, IT support, and customer service to support these flights. As the Cuba market has developed, load factors have improved on DL’s existing flights to HAV, with MIA having the strongest performance.
I’m surprised that Miami is the strongest performing route, given that Atlanta has way more volume to contribute to full planes (although full planes don’t mean big profits). Given that Delta hasn’t cut any of its frequencies or capacity, I see them doing OK with this addition, and providing some competition to American on the Miami-Havana route, which they fly four times daily. This additional route would be flown by an Airbus A320, with 160 seats added to the market each way.
American: Yeah, we weren’t going to let that one slide, Delta
Of course, right? Delta isn’t going to get away with muscling in on American’s turf THAT easily. From American’s DOT filing:
American respectfully requests an allocation of seven weekly U.S.-Havana frequencies, so that it may operate an additional daily year-round service between Miami International Airport (MIA) and Havana’s José Martí International Airport (HAV). American proposes to launch this service no later than October 5, 2017, with 160-seat Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
This would bring American to five daily Miami-Havana flights, the most in the US-Havana market. This is only half of what American initially wanted (!!!) and I can’t believe that 10 flights per day would be a prudent move by American.
If I were a betting man, I’d say that American is the loser here, as they already have more flights in South Florida – Cuba market than Delta and jetBlue combined. If Im right, I’d also say that Delta is going to be (more) successful that jetBlue, but only time will tell.