News, Jazz, NPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Local / State

From Water Cannons To Cancellations: U.S. Airlines Cut Back Flights To Cuba

A JetBlue flight from Fort Lauderdale - the first U.S. commercial flight to Cuba in more than half a century - lands in Santa Clara last August to a water cannon salute.
A JetBlue flight from Fort Lauderdale - the first U.S. commercial flight to Cuba in more than half a century - lands in Santa Clara last August to a water cannon salute.

Last summer the first U.S. commercial flights to Cuba in more than half a century took off to jubilant fanfare - and landed to cheers and water cannon salutes. U.S. airlines were giddy about resuming commercial flights to the communist island.

Maybe too giddy.

On Monday, the Fort Lauderdale-based Silver Airways said it will drop its almost 20 weekly flights to Cuba next month. Frontier Airlines said it will cease its Miami-to-Havana service in June. Both companies cited weak demand and excess capacity.

Read more:  U.S. Airlines Fly High In Cuba, But The Island's Economy Is Badly Grounded

They’re not alone. American Airlines recently dropped a number of its daily flights to Cuba. JetBlue is flying smaller aircraft to Cuba now, reducing its seats on those flights by 300 a day.

This despite the fact that Cuba saw a 74 percent rise in the number of U.S. citizens traveling there last year. The only explanation is that U.S. airlines simply overestimated the market – a lot.

In its statement, Silver Airways claims that since last summer there’s been a 300 percent increase in flight capacity between the U.S. and Cuba.

Experts say one factor is that U.S. travelers have discovered Cuba’s tourism infrastructure – especially hotel capacity – is still fairly deficient. That’s one reason the number of passengers to Cuba on cruise ships – which carry their own hotel rooms – is expected to rise this year.

Copyright 2020 WLRN 91.3 FM. To see more, visit WLRN 91.3 FM.

WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online.