FedEx asks for second extension to Cuba service start-up deadline

HAVANA, Sept. 19th FedEx has asked for more time to start up its new Cuba freighter service after facing problems finding suppliers in the country and due to potential changes to US policy.

Last year, the express firm was the only airline granted permission to operate all-cargo services between the US and Cuba as relations between the countries began to improve.

The five-times-a-week service between Miami and Matanzas/Varadero (VRA) was initially given a start-up deadline of April 15, but earlier this year the express operator asked for an extension until October 15.

Now, FedEx has asked for a second extension – this time until June 15, 2018 – as it continues to prove difficult to find cargo service suppliers.

“Despite FedEx’s vigorous planning efforts, substantial hurdles persist,” the express firm said.

“Namely, these hurdles relate to securing the appropriate Cuban commercial partners in VRA for critical operational components such as: airport ground-related services; unfettered access to airport customs clearance facilities and warehousing/staging space as needed; and last-mile delivery capabilities.”

It also had concerns about a change in approach to Cuba from current President, Donald Trump.

It added: “The regulatory amendments from the Departments of Commerce and Treasury to implement President Trump’s June 16, 2017, announcement on Cuba policy changes are still forthcoming.

“As a result, much uncertainty exists with respect to whether, and the extent to which, those regulatory amendments would require FedEx’s U.S.-Cuba all-cargo service plans to be altered.”

Despite these hurdles, the express operator added that it was committed to providing efficient and reliable US-Cuba air express/cargo services.

On February 16 last year, the US signed an arrangement with the Cuban government to re-establish scheduled air service between the two countries after more than 50 years.

Under the new arrangement, each country has the opportunity to operate up to 20 daily round trip flights between the US and Havana, and up to 10 daily round trip flights between the US and each of Cuba’s other nine international airports.