PHOTO: JetBlue will begin using A320 aircraft on flights to Havana. (Photo via Flickr/Eric Salard)
Is interest in Cuba already waning?
A year ago, when the United States re-established commercial airline routes into Cuba, it looked like the once-forbidden destination was poised to become the next hot destination for American travelers.
Airlines rushed to get coveted slots to the island destination and in August, JetBlue became the first U.S. commercial flight to land in Cuba in more than five decades.
But now, JetBlue has become the latest airline to announce it is reducing service to Cuba. Although the airline will maintain all of its existing routes, it will start using smaller aircraft, effective May 3, according to a news story at ThePointsGuy.com.
Currently, the airline flies from New York (JFK), Orlando and Fort Lauderdale to Havana, but in May it will switch out its 200-seat Airbus A321 with a smaller 150-seat Airbus A320 on those flights. It also offers service to other Cuban destinations, namely Santa Clara, Camagüey and Holguín. In May, those routes will be serviced with a 100-seat Embraer E-190 aircraft.
The shifting of equipment means that there will be 300 fewer seats to Cuba every day for the airline.
Although JetBlue did not a cite a reason for the shift, the move comes two months after American Airlines also cut capacity to the Caribbean island. In late November, it announced it was cutting about a quarter of its scheduled flights, citing weak demand as the reason for the cut.
Read more: American Airlines to reduce flights to Cuba in 2017[/READMORE
Silver Airways, a small carrier based out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which began flying to Cuba in September and offers flights to nine second-tier destinations in Cuba, has also announced it was cutting flights.
“As with all of our network and all airlines, seasonal schedule adjustments are common to best match demand,” said the airline in a statement last year. “We are pleased with bookings thus far particularly given that many major online travel agents have yet to begin selling U.S. carrier flights to Cuba.
Although demand might be low, U.S. airlines continue to cite their commitment to the destination. Even after scaling back its service, American Airlines opened a Havana-based office this month.
“You are a witness to the investment and how important Cuba is to American as a U.S. entity doing business,” said American Airlines Cuba manager Galo Beltran in a statement.
Although it has become easier than ever for Americans to visit Cuba, certain restrictions remain in place. Tourism for tourism’s sake is still prohibited. Travelers who wish to visit Cuba must apply for a special visa from the United States Department of Treasury, in one of nine categories, such as travel for humanitarian or educational purposes.