Cuba Flight Requests Are In. Delta Trying To Take It To American

It’s weird to think of Cuba as a place people can freely go to, since it’s been off limits for, well, my lifetime.  And yet, things have softened rapidly, to the point that America and Cuba are in the process of adding 110 new daily flight opportunities between the two countries for US-based airlines.

The US airlines filed their requests and we now have an idea of what they’re planning.  Scott Mayerowitz, writing for the Associated Press, has the breakdown of all the carrier requests. It’s an interesting read if you have a few minutes.  Of most interest to me:

— American is seeking 10 daily flights from Miami to Havana, one from Charlotte and one from Dallas as well as one weekly flight from both Los Angeles and Chicago. From Miami, it is also looking for two daily flights to Santa Clara, Holguin and Varadero and daily service to Camaguey and Cienfuegos.

— Delta is seeking flights from Atlanta, New York, Miami and Orlando to Havana. All would be daily, except for Miami where Delta is seeking two daily flights.

Even though there are a total of 110 slots available, only 20 are up for grabs at Havana.  Not surprisingly, everyone wants a piece of Havana.  Keep in mind, US residents still have to make self-certify that they qualify for travel to Cuba, though that may change this year.

It totally makes sense why American wants 10 daily flights from Miami.  They’re the dominant carrier at MIA and there’s a huge Cuban community in the local area.  I’ll offer my thoughts on who gets what in a bit, but I highly doubt they’re getting 12 daily flights to Havana (with Charlotte and DFW).

I think it’s interesting that Delta wants two daily flights between Miami and Havana.  While they do offer some seasonal service out of Miami to places other than their hubs, it’s not much.  This definitely looks like Delta trying to stick their thumb in AA’s eye.  That could be due to the Haneda mess, or just Delta being Delta.

The Dots, Lines guys were discussing Cuba in their most recent podcast and I have to agree that 110 flights is a massive amount of slots to fill.  Heck, even 20 daily flights to Havana is a lot, let alone all the other airports they want to open up.  These smell like money-losing routes for the foreseeable future.

We’ve been watching the Cuba situation evolve for over a year now.  I went back to my post in 2014 and wasn’t surprised to find comments there doubting this would happen (I was one of those doubters).  Here are my predictions on who get’s what:

  • I think the DOT will do everything they can to encourage competition and “the little guy” for as much crap as they’ve taken for the large mergers.
  • I’m taking for granted everyone gets what they want at all Cuban cities outside of Havana.
  • This is who I think gets the 20 Havana slots (by city):
    • American gets 5 daily flights out of Miami.
    • Delta gets 2 Miami frequencies (so the largest Cuban population gets price competition).
    • Frontier gets 1 daily flight out of Miami.
    • Delta picks up 1 frequency for Atlanta.
    • Fort Lauderdale gets 5 daily frequencies.  I think Southwest does well here with 3 slots and JetBlue scoring 1.
    • The New York area gets 3 slot pairs.  I’m guessing 2 go to Delta for LGA or JFK with United and JetBlue snagging one each.  It’s possible that more frequency for Delta in Miami means DOT shuts them out of NYC, but I think it’s more likely they get at least one.
    • LAX will see service.  I’m guessing AA and AS split two slots.  It’s possible that AA gets shut out of LAX if they get a DFW slot.
    • Pretty sure DFW gets a slot, which is obviously for AA.  Could be ORD instead.
    • Silver Airways picks up a flight out of Key West.  They applied for a bunch of other cities but a Key West-Havana connection makes some sense to me for both business and tourism.


My list is pretty heavy towards American.  That’s not because of my affinity for AA.  Rather, I think DOT recognizes that Miami is a huge market for the local Cuban population.  I think they dedicate 30% of the flights to that market and encourage competition between multiple carriers.  With AA being the dominant carrier, I still think it’s likely they get the lion’s share of those flights since they can also backfill with the rest of their network if locals don’t fill it.

We should know in a few weeks!

The post Cuba Flight Requests Are In.  Delta Trying To Take It To American was published first on Pizza in Motion


      1. Back in the day they used to fly the IL-62 but I believe now they fly IL-96s and a couple of A320s. I flew their Yak-42 CUN-HAV back in 1997 cause I didn’t know better or had any other option but considering their terrible safety record I wouldn’t fly them anyway.

  1. I highly doubt Silver gets a slot… why would the DOT waste a slot on a 34-seat Saab when there are so many other proposals for narrowbody service?

    1. bsan, I’m guessing that DOT is going to want to look as inclusive as possible. Silver is, IMO, the first to get shut out if someone gets no frequencies. Only other way I see someone getting shut out is if DOT doesn’t want DEN service and doesn’t give Frontier a slot in MIA.

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