U.S. based American Airlines announced that it was lowering its capacity to the Caribbean Island nation of Cuba. The cutbacks arrive only months after the carriers from the U.S. rushed to begin regular service to the island amidst travel restrictions being loosened between the two nations.
American is not dropping any recently launched flight routes to Cuba. However, it will drop one of its two daily flights currently being flown between Miami and each of the cities of Varadero, Santa Clara and Holguin.
The schedule American has to Havana, which began earlier this week, is not targeted at this time for any cutbacks. American is offering four round-trip daily flights to Havana from its Miami hub and one round trip daily flight from its hub in Charlotte.
The cutbacks on the three other smaller cities will take place beginning in February, lowering the flight schedule for American to Cuba to 10 per day from 13.
American cited demand that was much weaker than had been expected for this reduction, adding that the decision did not have anything to do with the U.S. presidential election results last month.
Some of the airlines flying into Cuba did not comment on their routes to the island nation, but Spirit and Delta each said that their bookings has been in line with their expectations.
However, a spokesperson from Spirit did say that carriers appear to be maintaining fares to Cuba as they try to fill their seats.
When Cuba became open earlier in 2016 to airlines from the U.S., close to all of them submitted requests to add the service to the country, especially to the country’s capital of Havana.
Against the enthusiasm, however, certain executives in the industry wondered openly if demand would be as high as hyped.
Without regular service of any airline to the islands for the last 5 decades, there was little if any available data for carriers to try to assess possible demands for flights to the new destinations.
In addition, unlike other markets outside the U.S., Cuba is still unique and a place that is highly regulated for airlines from the U.S. to do business in.
During October, American said for the first time that the flight to Cuba had been underperforming while on a third quarter earnings call.
One SVP for the airline said that everyone has been struggling somewhat in terms of selling the idea of traveling to Cuba.