As the business of regularly scheduled flights between the United Stated and Cuba undergoes growing pains, JetBlue Airways has set up shop on the island
The New York-based airline opened two ticketing offices for Cuban travelers in Havana Friday, another sign of its commitment to the island.
The city ticket office is located in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood near Revolution Plaza, and a second ticket office opened in Terminal 3 of the capital’s José Martí International Airport. The airline has similar offices across the Caribbean, including in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
The dual openings come almost a year to the day since JetBlue inaugurated commercial flights to Cuba from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Aug. 31, 2016. Although other airlines soon followed, JetBlue’s flight was the first regularly scheduled commercial flight from the United States to Cuba in more than half a century.
In its first year of commercial service, JetBlue has carried 390,000 passengers between the two countries and operated nearly 2,000 Cuba flights.
The openings of these offices allow us to offer a truly personalized experience for our Cuban customers with face-to-face interactions when arranging JetBlue travel.
Robin Hayes, JetBlue president and CEO
Since then, several airlines have joined and left the Cuban market. Overblown expectations led to a frenzy of new flights — at first. Then airlines started to pull back, beginning with American Airlines in December, which announced it would cut flights from Miami to Holguín, Santa Clara and Varadero from two daily to one.
Shortly after that in January, the airline opened its first Cuba ticketing offices in Havana and at the airport where it has also installed self-service kiosks. With 70 weekly flights to six Cuban cities, American has more Cuba flights than any other U.S. airline.
Other airlines did not fare as well. Silver Airways cut service to nine Cuban destinations altogether in April. Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines both completely eliminated their Havana routes — from Miami for Frontier and Fort Lauderdale for Spirit — in June.
That same month, Southwest Airlines announced it would phase out its routes between Fort Lauderdale and Varadero and Santa Clara by Sept. 4, retaining only its twice daily Havana flights.
Silver Airways, Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines have completely cut service to Cuba.
Only Delta Air Lines, with one daily flight from Miami to Havana, has remained totally unscathed. It opened a Havana ticket office in Vedado last November in preparation for its inaugural flight to Havana on Dec. 1.
JetBlue downsized to smaller planes on several routes, including from Fort Lauderdale, to Havana, Santa Clara, Holguín and Camagüey on May 3l, dialing back capacity across all routes by 300 seats a day.
The airline now offers daily service from Fort Lauderdale to Santa Clara, Camagüey, Holguín and Havana. It also offers daily flights from New York’s JFK International Airport and Orlando to Havana.
Havana remains a hot ticket for U.S. airlines and there’s still more interest in serving Havana than the 20 daily slots allowed by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
JetBlue, American, Southwest and Delta all want additional routes to serve the Cuban capital but since there are only three abandoned routes available, DOT has opened a new carrier selection proceeding.