The US Department of Transportation (DOT) says it has reached a tentative decision on allocation of its Havana traffic rights with eight US carrier: Alaska Airlines laska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, jetBlue Airways, Southwest, Spirit Airlines, and United Airlines are among the successful applicants.
Under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the US and Cuba in February this year, each country may operate up to twenty daily return flights between the US and Havana and up to ten daily return flights between the US and each of Cuba’s nine international airports, other than Havana, for a total of ninety daily return flights.
“A dozen US airlines applied for the chance to operate scheduled passenger and cargo service to Havana,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “Collectively, the airlines applied for nearly sixty flights per day to Havana, exceeding the twenty daily flights made available by arrangement between the two governments. The Department’s principal objective in making its proposed selections was to maximize public benefits, including choosing airlines that offered and could maintain the best ongoing service between the US and Havana.”
As such, following the allocation of non-Havana frequencies last month, the DOT broke down its allocation of the twenty remaining Cuban daily frequencies as follows:
- Alaska Airlines: a 1x daily Los Angeles Int’l-Havana service using B737-900(ER) equipment;
- American Airlines: a 4x daily Miami Int’l-Havana service using B737-800 equipment and a 1x daily Charlotte-Havana service using A319-100 equipment;
- Delta Air Lines: a 1x daily New York JFK-Havana service using B757-200 equipment, a 1x daily Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson-Havana service using B757-200 equipment, and a 1x daily Miami Int’l-Havana service using B737-800 equipment;
- Frontier Airlines: a 1x daily Miami Int’l-Havana service using A320ceo and A320neo equipment;
- jetBlue Airways: a 2x daily Fort Lauderdale Int’l-Havana service (except Saturdays) using A320/321 equipment, a 1x daily New York JFK-Havana service using A320/321 equipment, and a 1x daily Orlando Int’l-Havana service using A320/321 equipment;
- Southwest Airlines: a 2x daily Fort Lauderdale Int’l-Havana service using B737-800 equipment and a 1x daily Tampa Int’l-Havana service using B737-800 equipment;
- Spirit Airlines: a 2x daily Fort Lauderdale Int’l-Havana service using A319 equipment;
- United Airlines: a 1x daily Newark-Havana service using B737-800 equipment (with one additional Saturday-only flight) and a 1x weekly Houston Intc’l-Havana service (Saturdays only) using B737-800 equipment.
Applications from Dynamic International Airways and Eastern Air Lines were rejected on the grounds that neither have completed the necessary licensing steps to conduct scheduled flights. Eastern is currently only allowed to operate passenger charter flights and while Dynamic is permitted to operate scheduled interstate and foreign flights, the DOT has yet to effect those scheduled certificates.
An application from Silver Airways was rejected on the grounds that its proposed use of smaller Saab 340B equipment would be an inefficient use of the limited and in demand Havana slots. A proposal from Sun Country Airlines was rejected on the grounds that it did not adequately prove how its less-than-daily service proposals at Fort Myers Southwest Florida and Minneapolis/St. Paul would be more beneficial than proposals from other carriers for a more frequent operation.