Southwest Becomes Latest Airline to Reduce Flights to Cuba
By Mary Schlangenstein
June 28, 2017, 5:53 PM GMT+2
U.S. restrictions on travel continue to weigh on demand
American trimmed service while Frontier, Spirit pulled out
Southwest Airlines Co. will join other U.S. carriers in reducing flights
to Cuba, saying laws that restrict Americans from traveling there for
tourism are constraining demand.
Southwest becomes the latest airline to accept that the industry, with
little way to judge demand beforehand, was too optimistic when U.S.
regulators allowed passenger routes to the island nation last year for
the first time in decades. President Donald Trump added to the woes
earlier this month by announcing restrictions that may stall U.S.
business on the island. The new limits don’t affect airline operations
to Cuba but may affect demand.
American Airlines Group Inc. and JetBlue Airways Corp. previously
trimmed their service to Cuba, while Spirit Airlines Inc., Frontier
Airlines Holdings Inc. and Silver Airways Corp. pulled out completely.
Southwest will drop service to Varadero and Santa Clara on Sept. 4, and
continue flying to Havana twice daily from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood and
Tampa airports in Florida, the carrier said in a statement Wednesday.
“Our decision to discontinue the other Cuba flights comes after an
in-depth analysis of our performance over several months which confirmed
that there is not a clear path to sustainability serving these markets,
particularly with the continuing prohibition in U.S. law on tourism to
Cuba for American citizens,” Steve Goldberg, senior vice president of
ground operations, said in the statement.
Southwest Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly previously had said he
would give the Cuba markets a year before deciding on continuing
service. The Dallas-based carrier began flights to Varadero in November
and to Santa Clara in December.
The airline is contacting customers holding travel reservations for
those cities on Sept. 5 and beyond to offer refunds.
Southwest is seeking U.S. approval for a third daily Havana-Fort
Lauderdale flight from among those given up by airlines that have left
the island. American, Delta Air Lines Inc., United Continental Holdings
Inc. and JetBlue also are trying to secure those routes.
Source: Southwest Becomes Latest Airline to Reduce Flights to Cuba –