JetBlue Expands To Cuba, Adds Premium Mint Cabins In More Markets

by Barbara Peterson
JetBlue Expands To Cuba, Adds Premium Mint Cabins In More Markets

JetBlue's inaugural Havana flight.


JetBlue Airways is seizing on an opportunity to snap up newly available landing slots in Havana, as executives reaffirmed that Cuba will remain firmly on its route map.  As demand sags, other airlines are pulling out, including Spirt Airlines, Silver Airways and Frontier, which all said they would decamp from the market by June.  

“Cuba is an important part of our Caribbean strategy,” said JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes, during a conference call with financial analysts to discuss the carrier’s first quarter earnings. (The company reported net income of $85 million, ahead of estimates.)    

The airline said it will seek rights for an additional Fort Lauderdale-to-Havana flight six times a week, plus a new weekly nonstop flight from Boston to Havana, operating on Saturdays. The new flights will start in November. American and Delta also are requesting new rights to fly from Miami to Havana.

New York-based JetBlue was among the first airlines to fly to the formerly forbidden destination after air service was resumed last summer; currently it flies to Havana and other cities in Cuba from both Fort Lauderdale and New York JFK. But with tourism to the island still not permitted under U.S. law, airlines couldn’t accurately forecast demand – and while Havana flights are reportedly performing decently,  services to the country’s lesser-known destinations aren’t as strong. JetBlue already is cutting capacity by switching to smaller aircraft on some routes to cut capacity.

In other news, JetBlue said demand for its premium Mint service is strong enough to justify offering the product on new routes.  

JetBlue will roll out Mint class on one daily flight between JFK and?San Diego on Aug 15, with a second Mint roundtrip on Oct. 10. New Mint flights will launch from JFK to Las Vegas Nov. 6 and from Boston to San Diego starting Dec. 10. Seasonal Mint service also will be offered on Caribbean routes starting this fall, to markets including Aruba, Barbados, Grenada and St. Maarten.  

As the airline continues to accept delivery of more of the larger Airbus A321s that can accommodate Mint, the premium service is on target to expand to 70 daily flights by the end of 2017.?

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