American Airlines Approved To Restart Cuban Routes

The carrier has been cleared to reinstate services to five points in Cuba that had been banned by the Trump administration.

Credit: Joe Pries

American Airlines has been given the green light to resume routes to five cities in Cuba that were suspended in 2019 when the Trump administration imposed restrictions that prevented US carriers from flying to Cuban destinations except for Havana.

The US Transportation Department (DOT) has approved American’s request to restart flights from Miami (MIA) to Camagüey (CMW), Holguín (HOG), Matanzas/Varadero (VRA), Santa Clara (SNU) and Santiago de Cuba (SCU).

The airline plans to offer two daily services to Santa Clara and one daily flight to each of the other four cities. The routes are expected to recommence in early November.

American said the flights would “enhance service and access between the US and these non-Havana points, after more than two years during which such service was suspended.”

The DOT approval comes less than two months after the Biden administration announced plans to allow more routes from the US to Cuba, lifting measures put in place under former President Donald Trump.

The Trump administration had imposed a string of aviation restrictions during 2019 and 2020 as part of efforts to increase US economic pressure on the Cuban government. They included barring US airlines from flying to airports other than Havana (HAV) and introducing a cap on charter flights to the country.

However, US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said in May that the easing of restrictions by the current administration aims to “support the Cuban people, providing them additional tools to pursue a life free from Cuban government oppression and to seek greater economic opportunities.”

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American currently serves MIA-HAV six times per day using a mix of Boeing 737 and 787 aircraft. During the same week in 2019—before the Trump administration restrictions were imposed—the oneworld alliance member also served Santa Clara 2X-daily from Miami, alongside daily flights to Camagüey, Holguín, Matanzas/Varadero and Santiago de Cuba.

Other US-Cuba routes operating at the present time include JetBlue Airways’ Fort Lauderdale (FLL)-HAV and New York John F Kennedy (JFK)-HAV flights, which are 19X-weekly and 1X-weekly respectively, and Southwest Airlines’ 3X-daily FLL-Have and 8X-weekly Tampa (TPA)-HAV routes.

OAG Schedules Analyser data shows that scheduled capacity between the US and Cuba is currently 32,010 two-way weekly seats, compared with more than 57,000 during the same week in 2019.