However, their plans hinge on receiving temporary exemptions for these route adjustments from the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT).
Delta United to Reduce Cuba Flights
Delta has formally requested a suspension of its flights until March 30, 2024, for the seven routes connecting Atlanta, where the company is headquartered, to Havana.
Additionally, Delta plans to reduce its flights between Miami and the Cuban capital by half, specifically, seven out of the 14 flights.
The rationale behind these changes is that Delta perceives the routes as being underutilized. Nonetheless, the airline remains hopeful that demand will rebound, enabling them to resume regular travel operations.
Delta had previously secured a suspension during the summer for similar reasons, and they anticipate that the situation may recur, with the USDOT granting them the necessary license until passenger demand recovers.
United Airlines, headquartered in Chicago, requested on June 8, 2023, to suspend its services between Newark (New Jersey) and Havana due to economic considerations. Consequently, direct flights between this airport near New York and Cuba will cease starting from October 29, 2023.
The airline has stated its intention not to keep these routes inactive for an extended period and has decided to concentrate its efforts on the route connecting Houston to Havana, which will be the only route in operation starting in November.
JetBlue Already Suspended Cuba Flights
This news follows the recent suspension of JetBlue’s flights to the island, effective from September 17. JetBlue attributed this decision to “changes in the regulatory landscape and restrictions on the ability of our customers to enter Cuba,” as mentioned in the company’s statement.
JetBlue (B6) expressed hope for a resumption of services to Havana and continues to explore opportunities within Cuba should travel conditions become more accessible in the future. It was the first airline to reestablish regular flights to the island in 2016 after a 50-year hiatus.
As of July, the latest month for which official data is available, Cuba received a total of 1,489,286 international visitors, falling short of earlier forecasts and underscoring the challenges in achieving the target of 3.5 million visitors by year-end.
Among these passengers, 99,012 were Americans, and 210,019 were Cuban expatriates, the majority of whom reside in the United States.
The growth in these categories compared to the previous year is quite notable, with the former increasing by 188% and the latter by 114%. However, this increase has fallen short of expectations.
Just one year ago, Delta and United had not yet resumed flights since their suspension in 2020 due to the pandemic. At that time, only American Airlines and JetBlue were operating flights to Cuba.
Both Delta and United made a strong comeback to the island towards the end of 2022 and the start of 2023.
However, it appears that the supply of flights has outpaced the demand, and the fact that both airlines resumed operations during the high season suggests a lack of confidence in Cuba as a destination.
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