Spirit Airlines Becomes Third Carrier To Drop Cuba

by Daniel McCarthy

Spirit Airlines will fly to Cuba for the last time on May 31. And until then, it will reduce its capacity to once a day.

“We really wanted it to work…but the costs of serving Havana continue to outweigh the demand for service,” Spirit CEO Bob Forano said in a statement.

Passengers with flights booked after that date will receive a full refund.

With the announcement, Spirit joined Frontier Airlines and Silver Airways in exiting the Cuban market. Other airlines, most notably American Airlines and JetBlue Airways, also have reduced capacity on their Cuban routes because of a smaller-than-expected demand for flights to the island.

Spirit launched twice daily Fort Lauderdale to Havana routes in December. Its Fort Lauderdale service was just one option in a crowded market—American, Delta, JetBlue and Southwest all offer flights from South Florida airports to Cuba.

According to Fornaro, the competition and additional costs made the routes unsustainable for the budget airline.

The U.S. Department of Transportation in June 2016 gave approval to six U.S. airlines to fly direct flights to Cuba for the first time in more than 50 years.

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