On Dec. 1, 2016, a pair of water cannons at Miami International Airport sprayed an arc over a Frontier Airlines jet in celebration as it prepared to take off on the Denver-based airline’s much-ballyhooed first flight to Cuba following an easing of relations with the island nation.
Now, just 3-1/2 months later, Frontier says it will pull the plug on its daily Miami-Havana service on June 4.
Frontier was one of two airlines — along with Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based Silver Airways — that announced plans Monday to exit the Cuba market. Both airlines cited lower-than-expected demand and over-capacity on routes between Florida and Cuba. Frontier also noted high costs.
Fort Lauderdale-based Silver Airways said it had made “the difficult but necessary” decision to suspend all its Cuba service on April 22. It had originally hoped to serve all nine of the Cuban cities outside Havana that the U.S. Department of Transportation had authorized for regularly scheduled flights from the United States to Cuba.
On Monday, Frontier Airlines said that it would cease its daily flight to Havana from Miami on June 4. The airline said costs in Havana significantly exceeded initial assumptions, “market conditions failed to materialize” and too much capacity had been allocated between Florida and Cuba.
Regularly scheduled passenger jet service to Cuba had been cut off for more than 50 years. Americans who wanted to go there had to go through third countries or take expensive charter flights that were notorious for long delays and steep baggage fees.
While Frontier flew jets between Miami and the Cuban capital, Silver — a smaller, regional carrier — served several smaller Cuban destinations with 34-seat turboprops from its Fort Lauderdale home base.
Monday’s moves by Frontier and Silver follow American Airlines’ decision last month to reduce its daily Cuba flights from 13 to 10. And JetBlue Airways said it would fly smaller planes on its routes.
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