Airlines get nasty in competition for routes to Cuba
Hugo MartinContact Reporter
The war of words has gotten nasty, with the candidates describing the
ideas of their rivals as “disingenuous,” “extreme” and “capricious.”
These are not the comments of presidential candidates. This is the
language used by airlines that are competing for a handful of routes to
Cuba that the U.S. government will award this summer under the Obama
administration’s effort to normalize relations with the island nation.
As part of the selection process, the U.S. Department of Transportation
has asked that the competing carriers submit written requests for the
routes they want as well as responses to the proposals of their rivals.
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The federal agency plans to approve 20 daily round-trip flights to
Havana, and 10 flights to nine smaller airports around the communist
The language in these responses has taken an ugly tone because airline
executives know that the Cuban routes will be in high demand,
particularly from Cuban Americans living near Miami, New York and Los
In its application, New York-based JetBlue Airways requested 12 daily
flights to Havana and took shots at Delta Air Lines, saying “JetBlue,
not Delta, is the leading domestic airline at JFK,” referring to John F.
Kennedy International Airport in New York.
Delta, which requested to fly daily to Havana from four U.S. airports,
fired back in its application, saying, “JetBlue’s claim that it offered
more seats and flights from JFK than any other airline in 2015 is
In Delta’s application, the Atlanta-based carrier took an additional
shot at JetBlue by including photos of stranded JetBlue passengers
sleeping in chairs at a JFK terminal.
Southwest Airlines, which requested nine of the 20 daily flights to
Havana, said it can offer fares lower than American, Spirit and JetBlue
on flights between South Florida and Havana.
United Airlines described a projection that Southwest made about demand
for its service “capricious.”
American Airlines, which asked for 12 daily flights into Havana plus 10
daily or weekly flights to other Cuban airports, called Southwest’s
request for six daily flights from Fort Lauderdale to Havana “absurd.”
American also slammed Alaska Airlines, saying its request for two daily
flights from Los Angeles International Airport to Havana is “in the
extreme and bears no rational relationship to historical, current or
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Source: Airlines get nasty in competition for routes to Cuba – LA Times