Alaska is the latest airline to exit the Cuban market

By: Theo Nichols

November 17, 2017

Alaska Airlines 737, Credit: Wikimedia

Alaska Airlines has announced it is ending service to Havana, Cuba from Los Angeles after demand for the route did not meet the airline’s expectations. The last flight is scheduled for January 22nd, 2018.

The Trump administration recently announced it was ending “people-to-people” educational travel to Cuba, a major reversal of the policy of liberalization of travel between the United States and Cuba championed by President Obama. Around 80% of Alaska’s passengers flew under the “people-to-people” educational travel policy.

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"Travel is about making connections, and we were honored to have played a role in helping people make personal connections by traveling between the U.S. and Cuba," said Andrew Harrison, chief commercial officer for Alaska Airlines. "We continually evaluate every route we fly to ensure we have the right number of seats to match the number of people who want to go there."

Since scheduled air travel between Cuba and the U.S. was introduced in the past year, many carriers have either pulled back service or left the market entirely. American Airlines and JetBlue have decreased frequencies to Cuba, Frontier Airlines stopped serving Havana from Miami in June, Silver Airways cancelled all of its planned routes to Cuba in April and Sun Country recently relinquished its rights to serve Havana from Minneapolis.

With demand already thin and the Trump Administration increasing sanctions on the Cuban government, the future is not very bright for the sustainability of current levels of U.S. airline service to Cuba.

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