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Spirit Airlines to end Havana service June 1; last flights on May 31
Arlene SatchellContact Reporter
Sun Sentinel

Another U.S. air carrier is saying ‘Adios’ to Cuba.

Low-cost Spirit Airlines plans to operate its last flights between Fort
Lauderdale-Hollywood International and Havana on May 31, an
official said early Friday.

The news comes a little more than four months after the Miramar-based
airline began serving Havana with regularly scheduled twice-daily
service from Fort Lauderdale as part of a slew of new U.S.-Cuba routes
approved in 2016.

“We really wanted [Fort Lauderdale-to-Havana] to work, especially being
South Florida’s hometown airline… and the ultra-low cost leader to the
Caribbean, but the costs of serving Havana continue to outweigh the
demand for service,” said Bob Fornaro, Spirit’s president and CEO, in a
statement. “Due to overcapacity and the additional costs associated with
flying to Cuba, we don’t find it sustainable to continue this service
while maintaining our commitment to pass along ultra-low fares to our
customers.”

Although Spirit’s Cuba flights between Fort Lauderdale and Havana’s Jose
Marti International Airport will officially end June 1, the carrier
plans to operate an adjusted schedule starting in May.

Effective May 3-24, the Havana service will operate once-daily only, but
will revert to its twice-daily schedule from May 25-31, spokesman Paul
Berry told the Sun-Sentinel.

“We’re in the process of contacting our customers who’ll need
re-accommodations,” Berry said.

For example, during the period when only one flight will operate,
passengers already booked on its afternoon flight would be re-booked for
the morning one, Berry noted.

For customers with flights booked beyond May 31, full ticket refunds
will be given, he said.

In March, Fort Lauderdale-based regional carrier Silver Airways also
decided to suspend service on its eight routes to Cuba effective April
22, citing lack of demand and competition from “too many flights and
oversized aircraft” in the market.

A month earlier, JetBlue Airways, said it would begin operating smaller
planes on routes from Fort Lauderdale and other U.S. cities to four
Cuban destinations starting May 3. Those Cuba routes are Havana, Santa
Clara, Holguin and Camaguey.

The announced pullouts from Cuba and schedule adjustments by American
carriers are a continuing sign that airlines may have been too ambitious
about the demand for regular flights to the Communist island following
the restoration of U.S-Cuban diplomatic relations.

In December, American was the first to announce it would reduce service
between Miami and Holguin, Santa Clara and Varadero to one daily flight
starting Feb. 16, “to remain competitive in the market.”

American also serves Havana from Miami.

Today, to Cuba from the United States is restricted to 12
approved categories, such as educational and religious activities,
family visits and humanitarian projects. A ban on leisure to
Cuba remains in force as part of the long-standing U.S.-imposed trade
against the Communist island.

As for returning to Havana in the future, Fornaro said: “Spirit will
continue to monitor the Cuban market and if circumstances improve in the
future, we would consider resuming service there.”

asatchell@sun-sentinel.com, 954-356-4209 or Twitter@TheSatchreport

Source: Spirit Airlines to end Havana service June 1; last flights on
May 31 – Sun Sentinel –
www.sun-sentinel.com/business/fl-bz-spirit-nixes-lauderdale-havana-route-20170414-story,amp.html

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