Delta and United follow JetBlue, citing a lack of passengers
Delta and United Airlines request an exemption as of October 29 that will limit the options to travel between the US and the Island
HAVANA TIMES – The US airlines Delta Air Lines and United Airlines will reduce their flights to Cuba from October 29. Both companies are awaiting authorization from the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) for a temporary exemption from their routes.
In the case of Delta, the company has requested a suspension until March 30, 2024, for the seven routes it has between Atlanta, where it has its headquarters, and Havana, in addition to a reduction by half – seven of the 14 – of its flights between Miami and the Cuban capital. The airline alleges that the route is underused, although it hopes that the demand can be recovered to resume travel.
The company, which already achieved a suspension for the same reasons in the summer, expects the situation to be repeated and that the USDOT will grant it the license until demand is revived.
For its part, United Airlines, based in Chicago, requested on June 8, 2023 the suspension of its services between Newark (New Jersey) and Havana due to “economic circumstances,” so Cuba would cease to be served by direct flights from this airport, a neighbor of New York, also from October 29, 2023.
The airline said that it “does not want prolonged downtime for these frequencies,” so it plans to focus on the route it has between Houston and Havana, as its only route beginning in November.
The news, published by AviacionOnline.com, comes a few days after the suspension of JetBlue’s connections with the Island from September 17, attributed to “changes in the regulatory landscape and restrictions on the ability of our customers to enter Cuba,” according to a statement from the company.
“We hope to resume our service to Havana and continue looking for opportunities within Cuba in case travel is more accessible in the future,” said the company, which in 2016 was the first airline to operate regular flights to the Island after 50 years of suspension.
As of July, the last month for which there are official data, Cuba received 1,489,286 international visitors, still far from the forecasts and highlighting the difficulties of reaching 3.5 million by the end of the year. Of the passengers, 99,012 were Americans and 210,019 were Cubans living abroad, most of whom reside in the United States.
The increase in these groups compared to the previous year is significant, since the former rose by 188% and the latter by 114%. However, the increase has not met expectations. A year ago, Delta and United had not restarted the flights since the 2020 suspension due to the pandemic, and only American Airlines and JetBlue flew to Cuba.
The two companies returned strongly to the Island from the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023, but the supply has turned out to be excessive for the demand, and the request of both coinciding with the high season is revealing about the lack of confidence in Cuba as a destination.
Translated by Regina Anavy for Translating Cuba