American Airlines has requested permission to operate 14 weekly frequencies to Cuba that JetBlue Airways plans on returning to the US Department of Transportation (DOT) in April.
In a filing with the DOT, Dallas/Fort Worth-based American requested allocation of 14 round-trip weekly frequencies between Miami International Airport (MIA) and Havana’s José Martí International Airport (HAV). The proposed new services would begin early June and be operated year-round using 172-seat Boeing 737-800s.
American currently operates six daily flights between Miami and the Cuban capital. If granted the requested frequencies, the carrier would operate eight daily MIA-HAV flights, according to the application. The US-Cuba accord reached in 2016 permits US carriers to operate up to 20 daily round-trip frequencies to the island nation.
“American’s proposed enhanced service will maximize public benefits by growing capacity at the gateway with the greatest demand for U.S.-Havana travel while enhancing connectivity using American’s leading network at MIA,” the company said in its application for the routes.
JetBlue informed the DOT of its plans to return the 14 Cuba frequencies—which it received in 2016—on April 29, leaving the New York-based carrier with three daily flights to Havana from Fort Lauderdale, and once-weekly service on Saturdays from New York JFK.
JetBlue decided to return the 14 frequencies to the DOT following a series of new US Government restrictions on air travel to Cuba over the last two years that significantly disrupted its operations in the country. On Dec. 9, a DOT order went into effect suspending the authority granted to US carriers to fly between the US and any point in Cuba except for HAV. Prior to the suspension, which was announced late October, JetBlue had operated routes to Camagüey, Holguín and Santa Clara, in addition to Havana.
American was also impacted by the heightened restrictions, having previously operated to provincial cities including Camaguey, Holguin, Santa Clara, Santiago and Varadero.
Photo by Rob Finlayson