Spirit Airlines Pulls Out of Cuba
A couple of years ago when I visited Cuba, I chose to do so via Panama since there weren’t any direct flights from the United States. Of course that all changed last year when a limited number of slots between the U.S. and Cuba’s biggest cities were opened up. Just about every airline jumped on the opportunity to serve the previously forbidden Cuba!
Unfortunately it seems like the costs of doing business combined with the sheer number of flights (and lack of passengers) from the U.S. is causing trouble for airlines. Today, Spirit Airlines became the latest airline to pull out of the Cuban market. They have announced that as of May 31, they will be pulling their twice daily Fort Lauderdale to Havana flights. Spirit began flying to Havana just this past December.
Spirit Airlines CEO Bob Fonaro told the the Sun-Sentinel, “We really wanted [Fort Lauderdale-to-Havana] to work, especially being South Florida’s hometown airline… and the ultra-low cost leader to the Caribbean, but the costs of serving Havana continue to outweigh the demand for service.”
Two other airlines have already announced their pullout of the Cuban market as well. Regional carrier Silver Airways will end service from Fort Lauderdale to 8 Cuban cities on April 22 and Frontier Airways will be stopping its Miami to Havana route on June 4. Other carriers such as JetBlue have cut back service or switched to smaller aircraft.
One of the biggest issues is overcapcacity. For example, even with Frontier, Silver Airways and Spirit pulling out, you can still fly from Fort Lauderdale to Havana on Southwest or JetBlue and from Miami to Havana on American and Delta. There is still A LOT of capacity. Over time I expect the market will normalize itself and prices will equalize. For now, with airlines struggling to sell tickets, prices are cheap!