Adios, Havana! Alaska Airlines drops Cuba service

The Havana Airport will soon see more flights from US carriers, up to 20 daily

In the great land rush that was the US DoT allocation of Havana flights one stood out as particularly challenging. Alaska Airlines’ service from Los Angeles is a long flight, meaning expensive to operate. It also pulls from a relatively small Cuban population on the west coast. It was not meant to be. And as of 22 January 2018 it will not be. The carrier is dropping its service after a year.

“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, chief commercial officer for Alaska Airlines. “We continually evaluate every route we fly to ensure we have the right number of seats to match the number of people who want to go there.”

It also doesn’t help that the 2017 hurricane season brought a couple storms through the island. Infrastructure was already weak and the storm impact, while not catastrophic like in Puerto Rico or some other islands, was still significant.

Read More: US Airlines Battle Over Havana

The airline says that roughly 80 percent of its flyers to Havana visited under a U.S. allowance for individual “people-to-people” educational travel. Changes to U.S. policy last week eliminated that allowance. The people-to-people classification was a commonly used catch-all to cover trips that probably didn’t really qualify under the rules anyways.  Officially travelers were supposed to keep logs and otherwise pay attention to details. But that rarely happened.

So if you believe that continuing to isolate Cuba is smart diplomacy then revoking that rule makes sense. And once the loophole rule is gone then so is whatever little bits of demand Alaska Airlines was able to muster.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


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