The Department of Transportation has tentatively awarded
U.S-Havana route allocations to American, Delta, Southwest, JetBlue and United.
The routes, which add up to the equivalent of five daily,
will replace Havana service that has been dropped by Spirit, Alaska, Frontier
and Delta due to lack of demand.
Should DOT finalize the awards, U.S. airlines will once again
offer 20 daily frequencies to Havana, which is the maximum allowed under the
aviation agreement between the U.S. and Cuba.
Under the tentative approvals, American would offer an
additional daily flight between Miami and Havana, adding to the four dailies it
already flies. Delta would offer a second daily Miami-Havana flight. That
second flight would effectively replace the New York-Havana service Delta
terminated on Feb. 1.
JetBlue would be awarded six-times-weekly service from Fort Lauderdale
to the Cuban capital, adding to the 12 weekly frequencies it already offers on
that route. JetBlue would also receive one weekly allocation for Havana-Boston
Southwest would be awarded a third daily route between Fort
Lauderdale and Havana.
Finally, United would get six more frequencies per week to
Havana from Houston Bush, allowing it to turn a weekly route into a daily one.
In making the awards, the DOT said it sought to promote
competition while selecting carriers that could effectively maintain Havana
Fed Ex is the only applicant for an available Havana route
that the department outright rejected, but its Monday-to-Friday Miami-Havana
service would have been cargo-only.
In addition, the DOT looked askance at American's application
for another 10 weekly Miami-Havana frequencies and at JetBlue's request for
daily Tampa, Newark and Kennedy frequencies.
Notably, the airlines' continued pursuit of Havana service
comes despite stricter restrictions on travel to Cuba imposed by the Trump
administration last year.
The new service will have an even heavier focus on South
Florida than before. Along with the suspended Delta service out of Kennedy,
Alaska was previously flying to the Cuban capital from Los Angeles.
Parties have until April 16 to object to the tentative DOT