Three years ago I described Cuba flights as a new opportunity for airlines to lose money suggesting:
- Pretty much all traffic for these flights will originate in the US. There’s almost no customer base to support these flights in Cuba.
- Planes will be filled predominantly with leisure travel. Cuba isn’t a strong business destination.
- Infrastructure in Cuba, from the airport to hotels, is wholly inadequate to match an aviation boom and influx of tourists.
- It’s an expensive airport to operate at, with costs that make Miami look like Branson, Missouri.
Fishing on the Malecón in Havana
For those of you who think the issue is just the Trump administration taking a tougher line on Cuba, remember that American cut 23% of its Cuba schedule before Trump took office.
The DOT awarded a ton of service to Cuba in July 2016. It hasn’t lasted.
Back in the fall Alaska announced the end of its Cuba flying. We’ve seen cuts from Southwest, JetBlue, Silver Airways, Frontier and Spirit.
Delta will continue to funnel connecting traffic through Atlanta to Havana. And they’ll continue to compete with American Miami – Havana. JetBlue continues to offer daily New York JFK – Havana service.
Clearly though Cuba isn’t the airline gold mine carriers thought they were rushing into (as seemed obvious to this outside observer, though of course I was far from alone in this).
In Argentina at least there’s a saying that sums up past airline excitement over flying to Cuba, “Tengo una remera del Che y no sé por qué,” or “I have a Che T-shirt and I don’t know why.” Here are some contradictory symbols I came across on a local vehicle in Sri Lanka:
At one time Guevara was featured at the W South Beach. Airlines losing money probably have seen their Guevara excitement tempered, hopefully they’ll internalize what he — and the Cuban revolution — have done to destroy the lives of people there, not that US sanctions have helped matters.