Only a few months after having raised flight frequencies and capacities to Cuba, American Airlines has announced that they will be reducing the numbers again in early 2017. The airline group has stated plans of cutting nearly 25% of all Cuban-bound flights in the following year.
Despite the circulation of rumors, the American Airlines Group did not opt for the flight reduction due to the newly-elected Trump administration. Rather, the lack of demand for Cuban tourism has forced airlines and travel agencies to limit foreign entry.
In September of 2016, American Airlines had announced that the airline's Cuba-bound flights were to be extended to other parts of the country. The airline began offering two daily flights to the resort island cities of Varadero, Holguin, and Santa Clara.
Spokespersons from the airline have announced that flight frequencies to the three cities will be reduced to one, rather than two daily flights. This movement will reduce the current daily Cuban service of 13 round-trip flights to a more economical 10 flights per day.
Furthermore, the airline plans on lowering the number of seats available per flight by offering only smaller aircraft options for specific routes. Fortune has reported that the airline plans to offer a 128-seat aircraft, rather than a 160-seat for Holguin flights.
Low flight demands have also urged airlines to seek US regulatory approval for the outsourcing of Camaguey and Cienfuegos flights to their regional partner, Republic Airways Holdings. The regional airline will offer aircraft carriers that are capable of holding only 76 passengers at a time.
According to a report by Quartz, the flight routes in question are directed towards different resort-bearing cities. Since leisure is not covered by the 12 government-approved reasons for travel to Cuba, the resort-bound flights have not found adequate passenger demands.
With educational visits and person-to-person interactions still found among the 12 approved travel reasons, the airline has announced that flights to Havana will not be affected. AA, as well as other American-owned airlines have expressed that the Cuban capital still remains to be a successful tourist destination.
Despite the eased travel restrictions for US Americans to enter Cuba, it is worth noting that a majority of Republican Congress members are opposed to the ending of the long-standing trade ban. Travel officials are still awaiting the decisions of the newly-elected administration so as to determine the future of Cuban travel and tourism.