No Surprise: JetBlue Downgrades Cuba

In the second half of last year we saw the major U.S. airlines begin selling tickets for flights to Cuba. It’s no surprise that so many U.S. carriers requested rights to operate routes to Cuba, given that it’s the first time in decades that such flights are possible. I took advantage of that opportunity, and visited Havana in December. I had an… interesting time. I’m happy to have seen Havana, but don’t need to return anytime soon.

havana

However, I also think we’re going from one extreme to the other in terms of airline capacity. While there’s certainly interest among Americans in visiting Cuba, the actual demand isn’t there, at least not to fill the thousands of seats per day that are now operating between the U.S. and Cuba.

While there was a lot of enthusiasm at first, over the past couple of months we’ve heard a lot of airline executives say that they’re in Cuba for the long run, and they don’t plan on making money flying there in the foreseeable future.

In fairness, I suspect the performance on these routes varies significantly. For example, American may do reasonably well on flights between Miami and Havana, given that the flight covers a distance of just a couple of hundred miles, and they’re connecting big populations. On the other end of the spectrum, I can’t imagine how much money Alaska is losing on their daily Los Angeles to Havana flight.

As I expected from the very beginning, we’ve already seen some airlines cut back capacity to Cuba. American started by downgrading the planes they operate on several routes, and then eventually even canceled three daily frequencies to Cuba.

Well, it looks like the next airline to cut capacity to Cuba is JetBlue. Here’s a map of JetBlue’s routes to Cuba:

JetBlue-Cuba-Routes

Starting May 3, 2017, JetBlue will be downgrading all their routes to Cuba:

  • Flights to Havana will be downgraded from an A321 to an A320; this represents a reduction in capacity of 50 seats per flight (they’re going from 200 seats to 150 seats)
  • Flights to all Cuban cities other than Havana will be downgraded from an A320 to an EMB190; this represents a reduction in capacity of 50 seats (they’re going from 150 seats to 100 seats)

JetBlue-A321

Bottom line

Starting in May all JetBlue flights to Cuba will feature 50 fewer seats. This shouldn’t come as a surprise — expect the capacity cuts to continue.

Comments

  1. The only good thing is the outsize influence that a bunch of Cuban republican Robber barons, represented by their choke artist Rubio, had on American politics has diminished.

  2. Interesting move. I took B6 FLL – HAV two weeks ago. Both flights were 100% full. Of course my flights are only two data points but I was surprised they were completely full.

  3. I flew PHL to FLL to HAV and all the planes were maybe 50% filled , I flew JFK to HAV and that plane was at 25% capacity, this was in Dec 2016

  4. Just FYI, B6s A320s now have 162 seats per their website. They added more seats/reduced legroom to these planes in the past year

    So the downgrade to an E-190 actually represents an even greater capacity cut.

  5. Cuba is one of the greatest marketing phenomenons of recent times. it is a horrendeously shitty product, with cheaper, better and better known competitors all arround it, yet throgh hype and panic (Go there now before it will become Americanized), a ton of people, including airline CEOs fell for it and rushed into it head first.
    Unless you have family there or have been to 134 countries already, there is ZERO reason to go to Cuba.

  6. B6 still has 150 seat A320s. The conversion to 162 seats doesn’t start until September. Website is confusing by not showing current A320 layout but only showing the announced changed product.

  7. The fact that Cubans aren’t taking these flights to get out of the country proves that it’s not really such a bad place and the people there are happy.

  8. cuba was responsible for the booming of south Florida, according to obama, so it’s fair to open more business with them.

  9. I was in Charlotte this past weekend at the gate next to the Havana flight and watched five passengers board.

  10. @William “The fact that Cubans aren’t taking these flights to get out of the country proves that it’s not really such a bad place and the people there are happy”

    The fact that it takes a Cuban a full years wages to pay just for a passport, and probably 10 years wages to afford a ticket, and that Obama changed the rules in early January so that if you come into the US illegally you are immediately deported back, explains why no ordinary Cubans are taking these flights.

    There, fixed it for you……

  11. There is even more capacity to Cuba that you failed to mention there are smaller airline such as air Aruba and eastern airlines that fly from Miami to Havana they must be offering lower rates because I every time I’ve been in the same terminal the gate area is always packed for those two airlines to a Va there is even more capacity to Cuba that you failed to mention there are smaller airline such as air Aruba and eastern airlines that fly from Miami to Havana they must be offering lower rates because I every time I’ve been in the same terminal the gate area is always packed for those two airlines to a Havana

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