Alaska Airlines Is Canceling Flights To Cuba

This comes as absolutely no surprise, but Alaska Airlines has announced that they’ll discontinue their daily flight between Los Angeles and Havana as of January 22, 2018. Alaska Airlines launched the route on January 5, 2017, meaning that it will have operated for just over a year before it’s canceled. According to Alaska’s press release:

“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.”

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This follows the latest move by the US banning most types of tourism to Cuba. Alaska Airlines says that about 80% of their passengers traveling between Los Angeles and Havana were doing so under the “people-to-people” educational travel category, and that’s no longer allowed going forward. As a result they’ll instead redeploy the plane in markets where demand continues to be strong.

Those Alaska Airlines passengers who were booked on this flight will be rebooked on other airlines at no additional cost (with connections, since Alaska was the only airline flying nonstop), or will be offered a full refund.

While the latest policy changes might be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, Alaska’s route between Los Angeles and Havana has been the most questionable new Cuba route to begin with. Not only is it the longest flight to Cuba operated by a US airline, but Los Angeles (and the entire west coast, for that matter), doesn’t have all that big of a Cuban population. So while there’s obviously demand out of cities like Miami and Tampa, just about all of these other routes have left me scratching my head. That’s why it’s not surprising to see all the capacity cuts we’ve seen to Cuba, both before and after the latest travel restrictions were announced.

The airlines were dead wrong about Cuba, though with the latest restrictions they can at least cancel service and save face. I suspect this cancelation would have come sooner or later anyway, but this probably sped things up.

(Tip of the hat to Live and Let’s Fly)

Comments

  1. I think it is interesting that Alaska doesn’t fly to Toronto but felt there is a market to support LAX-HAV.

  2. This was always about ego for all the US airlines involved. Like you, I’m not surprised that we’re seeing routes cancelled, and not just because of the current administration’s questionable foreign policy moves. The infrastructure in Cuba is nowhere near where it needs to be for the burgeoning market the airlines hoped it would be and the tourism just never materialized. There are many other developing nations with much better infrastructure and fewer political hurdles. There’s a future for Cuba, certainly, but it’s not going to come about because a bunch of US carriers raced to get there; foreign carriers have been going there for years with little change.

  3. Looking at DOT T100 data, they did run a 84.6% load factor in April after starting in the mid 50s in January and February. Pulled using Diio. Their base fare was $174 which is only slightly lower than the $197 that LAX-FLL has, a much more well established route. LAX-MIA is at $244 (2nd quarter of 2017), a higher yield market. As a former route planner at a rival airline, the route looks like it did better than I would have expected, but was a little weak on the fare front. Their justification for dropping it may be legitamite.

  4. I flew this route LAX-HAV over Labor Day this past Sept. for a 4 day weekender in Havana. Both legs, coming and going were full;
    I asked the flight attendants and they said the plane was running approx 90% capacity.

  5. Contrary to what the Ahs-h*le above believes, I too recently went to Havana and found it rich in culture. The live music, the tradition, the living history, all amazing. Stayed in a beautiful regal 4-Star hotel situated across from the National School of Ballet. In fact, I experienced more culture in 3 days in Cuba than I’ve seen in 10 years in the overrated USA….

  6. “Contrary to what the Ahs-h*le above believes, I too recently went to Havana and found it rich in culture.”

    Because in fine OMAAT tradition, differences of opinion are always proper justification for personal attacks.

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