Alaska Airlines will halt its lone route to Cuba on Jan. 22,
citing tougher travel restrictions put in place by the Trump administration.
The airline launched Los Angeles-Havana service on Jan. 5,
shortly after regularly scheduled commercial flights between the U.S. and
Havana became legal under the loosened U.S.-Cuba travel policies negotiated by
the Obama administration.
However, effective Nov. 9, Americans are no longer allowed
to travel to Cuba individually under the people-to-people travel exemption. Visitors
to Cuba must travel with licensed tour operators or cruise lines whose
itineraries offer activities involving interaction with Cuban people.
Alaska said that about 80% of its flyers to Havana visited
under the individual people-to-people exemption. So, the airline will redeploy aircraft to
markets with higher demand.
"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, Alaska's chief commercial officer.
Alaska is the first airline to blame the Trump administration
for ending Cuba service. However, carriers had struggled to fill seats on
U.S.-Cuba flights well before the administration announced its plans to
implement tougher restrictions on Cuba travel in June. By then, Frontier,
Spirit and Silver Airways had halted Cuba service while American had made
Southwest ended service to secondary Cuba markets Varadero and Santa Clara