Last week, we reported on more cutbacks to flights in the adolescent Florida-Cuba sector. Silver Airlines had ambitiously begun service from nine Cuban cities to Fort Lauderdale and Frontier was awarded Miami-Havana route authority. Both airlines will pull out of the market completely in the next few months. We also reported that Southwest Airlines, facing a plane shortage as they transition out the aging 737-300 fleet and replace them with 737 MAX planes would possibly draw down some Cuba flying. However, Southwest has extended Cuba service at current levels through at least November 3.
Southwest will continue to fly double daily flights from Fort Lauderdale to both Havana and Varadero as well as daily flights from Fort Lauderdale to Santa Clara and Tampa to Havana. Fort Lauderdale to Santa Clara and Varadero are among the nine routes being cut by Silver, so Southwest might see an increase in traffic. Whether that factored into Southwest’s decision not to pull down capacity (and instead to pull down some domestic routes temporarily) is not known. It is also worth noting Southwest is playing catch-up in trying to develop a Latin American hub in Fort Lauderdale and might be reluctant to pull back from any routes even if it is temporary unless JetBlue and Spirit make similar moves.
Some other changes to Cuba flying are taking place: American Airlines will reduce capacity on its daily flights from Miami to Camagüey and Cienfuegos, flying these now with Embraer 175 regional jets.