PHOTO: Silver Airways is pulling service to Cuba. (photo via Flickr/Prayitno)
Silver Airways today dropped its service to Cuba, saying that a lack of demand coupled with overcapacity by the larger airlines has made the Cuban routes unprofitable for all carriers.
At almost the same time, Denver-based Frontier Airlines is not showing its currently-operating Republic of Cuba route from Miami International Airport (MIA) to Jose Marti International Airport (HAV) as of June 4.
It’s not surprising.
Silver and Frontier join American and JetBlue in scaling back service to Cuba, whether it was outright stopping its flights or switching to smaller aircraft.
“Silver has made the difficult but necessary decision to suspend its Cuba service effective April 22, 2017,” the company said. “It is not in the best interest of Silver and its team members to behave in the same irrational manner as other airlines. However, Silver will continue to monitor Cuba routes and will consider resuming service in the future if the commercial environment changes.”
Silver said its projections for the number of passengers flying from the U.S. to Cuba was on target after the Obama administration relaxed travel restrictions to the island. But, Silver noted, other airlines continue to serve Cuba with too many flights and oversized aircraft, which has led to an increase in capacity of approximately 300 percent between the U.S. and Cuba.
Silver also was not flying to Havana. Instead, its 22 weekly flights went to nine other Cuban cities.
“In addition to overcapacity, distribution through online travel agencies and codeshare agreements have been unavailable since airlines began servicing Cuba last fall,” the airline said. “Now, six months later, this issue is still not fully resolved, resulting in depressed demand.”
Frontier has yet to make a statement about its Miami-Havana flight, but Silver – and many others – noticed the inability to book after June 4.
READ MORE: JetBlue Reduces Service To Cuba
“Silver continues to focus efforts on their longer-term strategy of growing its successful Florida and Bahamas network and its fleet transition strategy that will allow the airline to serve many more markets further into the Caribbean and other destinations from its key hubs with longer range aircraft,” the carrier said. “In addition, we have learned today that Frontier has loaded a schedule showing they are exiting their Miami – Havana route after June 4, 2017. As a result, Silver is considering re-applying for rights to serve Havana."