HAVANA, Sept. 10th The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) announced Friday that it had tentatively approved Southwest Airlines’ proposal to add a new weekly flight to Cuba.
In May, Delta Air Lines informed the DOT that it planned to terminate its Saturday service to Havana, Cuba, from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City on September 1 and return the frequency to the Department.
As a result, three U.S. airlines—American, JetBlue and Southwest—filed applications this summer seeking allocation of the one vacant weekly frequency. After review, the DOT awarded the additional Saturday flight to Southwest.
Southwest has been offering daily journeys between Havana and Tampa International Airport since December 2016 with an average of 133 passengers on each flight. The passenger numbers have been on the rise for Southwest despite shifting circumstances in the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba, which factored into the department’s decision.
While Southwest was awarded the Cuban flight, the DOT has added a startup condition that will force the airline to launch its new Saturday flight to Havana within 90 days after December 1, the carrier’s proposed startup date.