Today the United States and Cuba will reportedly hammer out a bilateral agreement to resume commercial flights between the two nations. Reports indicate 110 flights per day will be permitted between the two countries which sounds like an awful lot, but without “open skies” and the desire of almost every major US airline to fly to Cuba from multiple US points the awards may not be as straight forward as many anticipate.
Florida has 68% of the Cuban-American population but likely will not receive 68% of the flights. The Miami/Fort Lauderdale MSA has 55% of all Cuban-Americans in the United States and based on that airlines should clean up on Miami or Fort Lauderdale to Havana and secondary Cuban point routes. But the reality is that route awards will probably favor hubs like Atlanta, Houston, Newark and Philadelphia for traffic flow purposes. Meanwhile it is entirely possible Florida while getting flights will not get its “fair share.”
I believe American will want to fly as many as 8-10 daily flights from Miami to Havana but likely will be awarded just 4 or 5. Similarly, JetBlue would probably want to run 4-6 dailies from Fort Lauderdale to Havana but is likely to only be awarded 2-3 flights a day. Other airlines that might want to fly from Florida to Havana like Delta (from Miami and Orlando), Southwest (from Tampa, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale) and Spirit (from Fort Lauderdale) may not get awarded flights or might get a token one round-trip per day on the desired routes.
It will also be interesting to monitor the reaction of the Florida Legislature and Senator Marco Rubio on this matter. The legislature has not been shy about attempting to impose a doctrine of interposition when they feel Obama Administration foreign policy does not line up with their narrow world view, and this is likely another case of that. Senator Rubio in his campaign for President has made it clear that he would put ideological views and personal interests over that of American security and relationships abroad. He no doubt will have something negative to say about the resumption of commercial flights between the two nations.
We will keep our readers posted on the route awards here at TFS.