Six months after flights to Cuba begin, airlines drop out & scale back

Cuba

Six months after flights to Cuba begin, airlines drop out & scale back

Just six months after U.S. airlines began scheduled flights to Cuba, two companies have decided to stop flying there while several others are scaling back.

CGTN’s Michael Voss reports the number of Americans visiting Cuba continues to grow.

Six months after flights to Cuba begin, airlines drop out & scale back

Just six months after U.S. airlines began scheduled flights to Cuba, two companies have decided to stop flying there while several others are scaling back. CGTN's Michael Voss reports the number of Americans visiting Cuba continues to grow.

When Cuba and the United States agreed to resume commercial flights, 10 U.S. airlines rushed to get in on the act. Now two of the smaller companies, Frontier and Silver Airways, have decided to pull out, while others are cutting back.

Yet according to official Cuban figures, 43,000 Americans visited the island in January, a 125 per cent increase over the same month last year.  Industry experts here say there is no indication that the U.S. tourist bubble has burst.

“Not at all, the airlines are cutting back because they overestimated the number of seats needed. Also they should have considered an earlier study by Visit Florida which predicted that a million Americans would want to visit Cuba, but 60 percent of them want to come on cruise ships,” said Jose Perell from the Havana School of Tourism.

Cruise ships can now sail to Cuba from Miami and this year the number of liners docking in Cuba has risen dramatically. Earlier in March Florida based Norwegian Cruise Lines became the latest to sail into Havana Bay.

“Cuba has been off-limits for 50-60 years and I think it’s time that Cuba becomes an integral part of cruising out of port Miami and out of other ports throughout Florida,” said Frank Del Rio, the CEO of Norwegian Cruise lines.

For decades, Havana was the forbidden city for Americans. Now those on board can see it, briefly, for themselves.

It’s good business for the private classic car owners, while bars, restaurants and gift shops near the docks are also doing well.

Cruise passengers don’t spend as much as other tourists. They only stay a day or two and sleep on-board. But Cuba’s infrastructure is struggling to cope with so many tourists and already there aren’t enough hotel rooms to go around.

But the current boom could still turn to bust, if U.S. President Donald Trump decides to put an end to the thawing relations.