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JetBlue, American and Delta apply for more flights to Havana
BY CHABELI HERRERA
cherrera@miamiherald.com

While several U.S. airlines have cut flights to Cuba citing weak demand,
American Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Delta Air Lines are investing in
more service to Havana.

Monday, American filed an application with the U.S. Department of
Transportation requesting seven weekly flights between Miami
International and Havana. Last week, JetBlue did the same,
applying for seven slots: an additional Havana to Fort Lauderdale flight
six times a week and an inaugural weekly flight from Boston to the Cuban
capital on Saturdays. Delta Air Lines requested seven weekly flights
from Miami to Havana.

If approved, American would start flying to Cuba on a 160-seat Boeing
737 on Oct. 5. JetBlue plans to use a 162-seat Airbus A320 aircraft for
its flights beginning Nov. 1.

The openings for new routes were made available after Spirit Airlines,
Silver Airways and Frontier Airlines announced they would completely
pull out of Cuba by June 4.

From Miami, American currently offers daily flights to Holguín,
Cienfuegos, Camagüey, Santa Clara, Varadero and Havana and Delta Air
Lines offers one daily flight to Havana. JetBlue operates 13 times
weekly service from Fort Lauderdale to Havana.

While flights to other parts of the island have been reduced in the
past, Havana routes seems to be profitable — but there were some growing
pains.

In February, JetBlue said it would move to smaller planes on several
routes, including Havana, to adjust for demand to the island. In all,
JetBlue is cutting capacity to Cuba by 300 seats a day beginning May 3.

“With these adjustments, Havana is performing well against our
expectations and we are seeing strength in our group’s business,” said
JetBlue spokesman Philip Stewart, in a statement. “We hold an optimistic
long-term view as visitor levels grow at a record pace.”

Since the initial frenzy to add service to Cuba began last year, some
airlines have cut some, if not all, of their flights to Cuba. The
changes, experts said, were likely due to overly optimistic forecasts
for demand.

American Airlines was the first to reduce its service to Cuba,
announcing in November that it would cut flights from Miami
International Airport to Holguín, Santa Clara and Varadero from two
daily to one. In December, Silver Airways reduced the number of flights
on six of its nine destinations to the island before announcing in March
that it was cutting service to Cuba altogether on April 22. Last month,
Frontier announced it would completely eliminate its Miami to Havana
route on June 4.

Spirit is the latest to make a change, announcing earlier this
month that it would reduce flights to once daily, from its daily two
flights between Fort Lauderdale and Havana, from May 3 to 23, offer its
usual twice-daily flights from May 24 to 31 and then end flights
altogether beginning June 1.

Source: JetBlue, American and Delta apply for more flights to Havana |
Miami Herald –
www.miamiherald.com/news/business/article146402999.html

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