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Speculation: New US-Cuba aviation deal...how many flights for AA?

Speculation: New US-Cuba aviation deal...how many flights for AA?

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Old Feb 16, 16, 6:09 am   -   Wikipost
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Speculation: AA and Commercial Flights to/from Cuba

As reported in several media the U. S. Department of Transportation has announced an agreement that would ultimately allow for up to 110 commercial daily flights between the USA and Cuba, including up to 20 flights to La Habana / HAV and up to 10 for nine other Cuban airports. Airlines will apply, USDOT will select. These airports might include Havana (HAV), Camagüey (CMW), Cienfuegos (CFG), Jardines del Rey (CCC), Santa Clara (SNU), Santiago de Cuba (SCU) and Varadero (VRA).

Current USA-Cuba flights, flown by American, Delta, JetBlue, SunJet etc. are all charters through Cuba Travel Service / CTA. AA charter flights to Cuba do not earn AA miles, can not be flown as awards, do not allow for upgrades or recognize any AA perquisites or status.

Tourist travel to Cuba is prohibited under U.S. law for U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and others subject to U.S. jurisdiction, as is spending American money for arrangements in Cuba or in Cuba itself. USA travelers must have a permit as allowed by the U. S. Treasury OFAC, as well as purchase tickets from CTS if flying between USA and Cuba.

Link to US Treasury Dept. Office of Foreign Assets Control / OFAC PDF (12 Jan 2016) governing travel to Cuba by U.S. Citizens and Residents.

U. S. citizens can legally travel to Cuba if they are engaging in 12 categories of activities such as professional research, participating in an athletic event, performing in a concert, working on a humanitarian project or taking part in educational activities benefiting Cubans or visiting for "people to people" educational and outreach purposes. Americans might now "self license" if traveling for covered reasons.

Authorized travelers to Cuba are subject to daily spending limits. See the Office of Foreign Assets Control page of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Link to PDF.

Currently, no AAdvantage miles may be earned flying AA or any oneworld airline to or from Cuba (e.g. Iberia).
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Old Dec 17, 15, 3:13 pm
  #16  
 
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HAV airport (t2, for all American / short haul flights) is absolutely dreadful. Probably the single worst airport experience of my life (worse than old GRU, IST, old TBIT...)
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Old Dec 17, 15, 3:27 pm
  #17  
 
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I would anticipate MIA, TPA and possibly MCO.

Don't forget the little-known MIA-FLL-Guantanamo flight that exists.
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Old Dec 17, 15, 3:38 pm
  #18  
 
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Here is what they run now.
http://www.abc-charters.com/book-a-flight/
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Old Dec 17, 15, 3:44 pm
  #19  
 
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Terminal 3, the non-charter international terminal, is the nicest of the four terminals. I know that one from having flown in and out on Copa. It has little space to handle an influx of new flights.

How much demand will there be if the travel restrictions are still in place? I wouldn't see demand multiplying until general travel is allowed.
I've seen nothing about lifting the individual travel restrictions. For now, we Yanks still have to fit into one of the 12 approved categories of travel, and independent tourism isn't one of them. I imagine aa.com will have some type of statement where you attest to being eligible for the flights?
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Old Dec 17, 15, 4:45 pm
  #20  
 
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There will definitely be MIA/HAV flights but lets not for get there is zero business traffic there so it's all humanitarian, family or, leisure travel. (for now, until McDonald's moves in!) After the initial surge it's going to be just another Caribbean destination.

Initially there may be some extra flights just because it was an essentially impossible destination for most Americans, but 2 years from now there will be 2-5 MIA/HAV flights, and maybe a few other destinations, DFW, ORD or JFK but probably not even all 3.
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Old Dec 17, 15, 5:42 pm
  #21  
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1. Can the airports in Cuba currently handle this influx of flights? Particularly on the customs and immigration side? Which I think might be an awful experience if the Cuban government is strict about what can be brought into the country. and
2. Can the country's tourist infrastructure handle this many new arrivals? Or are people going to be camping out on the beach?

As for flight service, I think AA will initially just stick with MIA service (quick flight turnarounds as well as the highest amount of O&D traffic), and maybe a flight from DFW and/or JFK.
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Old Dec 17, 15, 6:03 pm
  #22  
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Originally Posted by IMStill4Travel View Post
Seems like there are a lot of Cubans in the Tampa area as well. Not sure if it's enough to justify a non-stop though.
Tampa - Ybor City has a lot of Cuban descendants, but I'd not imagine sufficient for 150-160 people daily.

Originally Posted by kop84 View Post
There will definitely be MIA/HAV flights but lets not for get there is zero business traffic there so it's all humanitarian, family or, leisure travel. (for now, until McDonald's moves in!) After the initial surge it's going to be just another Caribbean destination.

Initially there may be some extra flights just because it was an essentially impossible destination for most Americans, but 2 years from now there will be 2-5 MIA/HAV flights, and maybe a few other destinations, DFW, ORD or JFK but probably not even all 3.
Zero? Incorrect.

Originally Posted by Fanjet View Post
1. Can the airports in Cuba currently handle this influx of flights? Particularly on the customs and immigration side? Which I think might be an awful experience if the Cuban government is strict about what can be brought into the country. and
2. Can the country's tourist infrastructure handle this many new arrivals? Or are people going to be camping out on the beach?

As for flight service, I think AA will initially just stick with MIA service (quick flight turnarounds as well as the highest amount of O&D traffic), and maybe a flight from DFW and/or JFK.
Cuba already handles many flights, including a number of American - Delta - Sun Jet charters every day. With authorized commercial traffic I'd expect some decrease in charters.

Cuba is indeed finicky about what you bring in.

There are plenty of hotels, including some world class properties; more would be built if demand grows.

(I visited Cuba last year.)
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Old Dec 17, 15, 7:58 pm
  #23  
 
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Airports such as Varadero (VRA) and Jardines del Rey (CCC), which serves Cayo Coco, are already doing a brisk business. They are, respectively, Cuba's second and third largest tourist destinations. Neither of those receives any U.S. charters because they are essentially beach-resort destinations, and trips like that are still prohibited for us. But they get all kinds of Canadian and European flights. Some of the other out-country airports are much smaller, but they aren't receiving many flights. I think HAV would be where we see the crunch.

I was in Cuba earlier this year as a journalist.
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Old Dec 17, 15, 8:48 pm
  #24  
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Originally Posted by SJOGuy View Post
Airports such as Varadero (VRA) and Jardines del Rey (CCC), which serves Cayo Coco, are already doing a brisk business. They are, respectively, Cuba's second and third largest tourist destinations. Neither of those receives any U.S. charters because they are essentially beach-resort destinations, and trips like that are still prohibited for us. But they get all kinds of Canadian and European flights. Some of the other out-country airports are much smaller, but they aren't receiving many flights. I think HAV would be where we see the crunch.

I was in Cuba earlier this year as a journalist.
The exciting news here will be when AAdvantage miles can be earned. Iberia etc. already do, of course.
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Old Dec 17, 15, 9:03 pm
  #25  
 
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American flies charters to Holguín in eastern Cuba. If that becomes one of the regular commercial destinations, we can start talking about flying to HOG.

Also Santiago de Cuba (SCU), Santa Clara (SNU), Cienfuegos (CFG), Camagüey (CMW), and Havana (HAV), of course.

Originally Posted by JDiver View Post
The exciting news here will be when AAdvantage miles can be earned. Iberia etc. already do, of course.
Spoken like a true FTer, JDiver. ^

Last edited by SJOGuy; Dec 17, 15 at 9:14 pm
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Old Dec 18, 15, 8:38 am
  #26  
 
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Originally Posted by JDiver View Post
Tampa - Ybor City has a lot of Cuban descendants, but I'd not imagine sufficient for 150-160 people daily.



Zero? Incorrect.



Cuba already handles many flights, including a number of American - Delta - Sun Jet charters every day. With authorized commercial traffic I'd expect some decrease in charters.

Cuba is indeed finicky about what you bring in.

There are plenty of hotels, including some world class properties; more would be built if demand grows.

(I visited Cuba last year.)
Ok so not zero, but Cuba is going to end up being a regular Caribbean destination very soon. Cruise and vacation traffic is going to dominate US to Cuba travel.

MIA/HAV isn't going to be a high margin route with high premium cabin demand like JFK/LAX.
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Old Dec 18, 15, 1:33 pm
  #27  
 
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Originally Posted by kop84 View Post
Ok so not zero, but Cuba is going to end up being a regular Caribbean destination very soon. Cruise and vacation traffic is going to dominate US to Cuba travel.

MIA/HAV isn't going to be a high margin route with high premium cabin demand like JFK/LAX.
Yes, given that it is about a one hour flight, little premium cabin demand is likely. But that does not automatically equate to low margin. I see these routes as operating like American Eagle domestic- small planes, minimal service, few crew--all leading to low costs, but with relatively high fares per mile. Not to mention excess baggage charge possibilities and feeder flite revenues. Aren't Eagle flites among the higher margins in the system, all things considered?
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Old Dec 18, 15, 1:37 pm
  #28  
 
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I also think people are vastly overestimating the amount of Tourism that is going to go to Cuba. It is by no means an 'easy' destination for tourists as of right now. It's a very interesting destination, but definitely not just a beach vacation by American standards.
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Old Dec 18, 15, 1:44 pm
  #29  
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Originally Posted by mikekelley View Post
I also think people are vastly overestimating the amount of Tourism that is going to go to Cuba. It is by no means an 'easy' destination for tourists as of right now. It's a very interesting destination, but definitely not just a beach vacation by American standards.
That's part of the appeal. I think a lot of people will want to go *before* it gets all Cancun-ized.

The way I read the article, it's 30 routes and 110 total flights. That is presumably enough to give all U.S. legacies an opportunity to fly their 2 or 3 most logical hubs each to HAV, a couple flights per day per hub.

Then I'd expect AA to lead the way in bidding for the other 10 non-HAV routes with a lot of MIA RJ action.
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Old Dec 18, 15, 1:48 pm
  #30  
 
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Originally Posted by JDiver View Post
Tampa - Ybor City has a lot of Cuban descendants, but I'd not imagine sufficient for 150-160 people daily.


.Take a look at the link in post 18. It indicates two flights TPA-HVA on December 19. Both sold out with a total of 284 passengers. You are right that all may not be O/D,(and maybe that one day is not typical) but a healthy number nonetheless

Last edited by JDiver; Dec 19, 15 at 5:45 am Reason: Close quote
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