Southwest Airlines decreasing their routes to Cuba
Southwest Airlines announced that they are canceling two of its three routes to Cuba, becoming the latest airline to cut flights amid low demand. Southwest has canceled its flights to Varadero and Santa Clara. Southwest Airlines will still maintain its service to Havana from Fort Lauderdale and Tampa.
The flights will end Sept. 4, with Southwest pointing to travel restrictions that impact Americans traveling to Cuba. Southwest Senior VP of ground operations released a statement.
“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.”
Tourism to the island is prohibited, with U.S. travelers having to visit under one of 12 official purposes, including educational, research or humanitarian trips. Traveling to Cuba is likely to get even more difficult for U.S. citizens after President Trump announced changes this month that will require most visitors to be part of organized tour groups.
Southwest follows American and JetBlue who have also reduced their flights to Cuba. Both kept their routes but now are flying fewer flights and downgraded to smaller planes. Frontier and Silver have officially stopped flying to the country. Southwest have begun offering refunds to customers who booked flights to Varadero and Santa Clara.
Southwest is working to get a third flight between Havana-Fort Lauderdale. At a recent shareholder meeting, Southwest said the believe they will have 102 destinations by the end of 2017 and add 50 more flights in North or South America and 15 international destinations coming to Mexico, the Caribbean and South America. For now, much of the traffic between U.S. and Cuba will probably be Cuban Americans.