Last year, the major carriers in the US fought very hard in order to obtain rights to fly to Cuba. Many airlines wanted to fly to Havana, and some airlines wanted to fly to smaller Cuban destinations such as Holguin. Airlines have since launched flights to Cuba, and there have been some great fares to Cuba since then. Well, it seems that the low prices were not means of competition, but of lacking demand. Airlines cutting Cuba flights is a vivid example of what is currently happening with Cuban tourism. You still can’t travel to Cuba for typical tourism, per the current regulations. With the current administration, we can only speculate how these regulations will be tightened or relaxed.
American Already Cut Seats
American has already announced seat cuts to their Cuba flights. As reported by OMAAT, they have reduced their flights and modified aircraft serving these routes. The airline has cited demand as one of the main reasons for this cut. The airline has cut capacity and reduced flights to Holguin, Varadero and Santa Clara. These route were served by 737s and now will be served by A319s. The flights to Cienfuegos and Camaguey will be changed from A319s to ERJ175s. This means that they will pass on to American Eagle.
Havana flight cuts are a different story. Since American competed with so many airlines for the rights to fly to Havana, there is a small chance they will reduce their frequencies there. They are capable of reducing the aircraft size, and/or switching to American Eagle aircraft for some of the flights. I think these flights are also suffering from poor demand. The probability that so many flights can operate to Cuba all of the sudden profitably seems unlikely. The flights probably outpace demand by a mile.
JetBlue will also Reduce Flights
JetBlue is the next airline to announce cuts to their Cuba flights. OMAAT also reports that the airline will be reducing their service by one aircraft type. This means that A321s will switch to A320s, and A320s to ERJ190s. This means that the airline is currently offering many more seats than what there is demand for them. Same issue as American, I think. The situation may improve with the reduction of seats, but I don’t really think that there will be any major increase in flights in the coming months.
As much as I want to visit Cuba, I believe there isn’t that much capacity for tourism from the US. Given the current restrictions, it is still difficult to go to Cuba for no real reason. I was surprised by all the slots awarded by the DOT. There isn’t that much demand for travel to that country, and we can now see the results of over capacity. I would not be surprised to see more carriers announce cuts in the near future. We will have to wait and see what happens.