HAVANA, April 24th Barely a month after JetBlue and American Airlines scaled back on the number of seats and flights to Cuba, while Frontier, Spirit and Silver completely cut service to the island nation—all reactions to a gross overestimation of demand for travel—the New York-based airline now wants to increase service to Havana.
JetBlue has formally applied to the U.S. Department of Transportation for seven of the 21 slots to Cuba that will become available when Frontier, Spirit and Silver abandon service later this spring.
“In light of Spirit and Frontier terminating service to Havana, Cuba, on May 31, 2017, and June 4, 2017, respectively, JetBlue hereby applies for seven weekly frequencies in order to provide additional non-stop service between Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Havana, Cuba, and to inaugurate the first ever non-stop service between Boston, Massachusetts and Havana, Cuba.,” the airline said in its application to the DOT.
“JetBlue proposes to begin the additional services on November 1, 2017, in order to capitalize on the success of JetBlue’s initial entry into Cuba, which has provided customers in both countries with access to JetBlue’s low airfares and award-winning service.”
JetBlue currently provides daily non-stop service from New York to Havana, as well as from Orlando to Havana, and 13 times weekly service from Fort Lauderdale to Havana. The Long Island-based carrier has requested six weekly frequencies in order to increase its service levels on that route, as well as beginning the first-ever non-stop service between Boston and Havana with weekly Saturday service.
Still, it’s a curious move given the current climate for demand to the island.
Which begs the question, “Do they know something about what the Trump Administration is planning with respect to how its forthcoming policy review may be implemented?”
Those are the words of John Kavulich, President of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, Inc.
Kavulich obviously has a vested interest in how the trend will swing when it comes to Cuban travel, and he noted that the three largest United States cruise lines have substantially increased the number of itineraries that include island stops for 2017 and 2018—at capacity transporting more than 185,000 passengers on more than 100 sailings.
The cruise lines did not require additional authorizations to do so.
So, what’s next for JetBlue?
“Insightful will be the public comments, including from its competitors, Members of the United States Congress, and Governors relating to the filing by JetBlue Airways,” Kavulich said via email. “And how the DOT responds.”