Southwest Airlines just announced that they are “concentrating” their service in Cuba, as they’ll be discontinuing flights to both (VRA) and Santa Clara (SNU) as of Monday, September 4, 2017 (Labor Day).
Southwest will maintain their current twice daily flights from Ft. Lauderdale to Havana, and daily flight from Tampa to Havana. They’ve also applied with the Department of Transportation for a third daily flight between Ft. Lauderdale and Havana.
Here’s how Southwest describes this change:
“Access to Cuba remains important to our South Florida Customers and this shift in focus will answer their continued calls for our low-fare value with bags fly free1 in serving the Cuban capital,” said Steve Goldberg, Southwest Airlines Senior Vice President of Ground Operations and lead Executive sponsor for Florida. “Our decision to discontinue the other Cuba flights comes after an in-depth analysis of our performance over several months which confirmed that there is not a clear path to sustainability serving these markets, particularly with the continuing prohibition in U.S. law on tourism to Cuba for American citizens.”
Southwest is the latest of many airlines to cut service to Cuba. American, JetBlue, Silver Airways, Frontier, and Spirit have all already cut capacity to Cuba. While Trump recently announced his intentions to make visits to Cuba more restrictive, that certainly can’t be blamed for this announcement. Even without that, Cuba has been a terribly unprofitable market for most US airlines, given that even under Obama’s policy, tourism wasn’t officially allowed.
I’m sure we’ll see even more Cuba cuts soon, once Trump’s new plan is fully implemented, and more people are scared to visit Cuba for tourism.