Alaska joins a parade of other USA carriers who are trimming back flights to Cuba or dropping service entirely. The airline said new restrictions on travel to Cuba by the Trump Administration, combined with low demand for travel to the communist-controlled island, gave the airline pause about continuing to fly there.
Reversing liberalized Cuba travel policies implemented by the Obama administration, President Donald Trump has effectively banned independent travel to the island for Americans and prohibited USA citizens from staying at a long list of hotels and restaurants with connections to the Cuban military.
A Cuban flag was propped up on an seat in Alaska Airlines' jet for the carrier's inaugural flight to Havana in January 2017.
"Looking at the precipitous drop-off in bookings coupled with the fact that 80 percent of our traffic can no longer take advantage of the people-to-people education option, we just felt there were better opportunities for us", Kirby said.
The Trump administration's shift in policy toward Cuba was a contributing factor. Now that that allowance has been eliminated, individual tourists would have to join tour groups with an approved guide - an arrangement that tends to be more expensive.
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Smaller operators Silver Air and Spirit Airlines subsequently dropped their flights, and Frontier ended its flights from Miami to Havana in June.
January 22 will mark Alaska's last flight to Cuba.
Alaska Airlines is saying "Adios" to Cuba. "The hurricane season didn't help", as a record-setting storm season lashed both Cuba and the Southeastern U.S.
He said it had been hard for airlines to predict travel demand to Cuba: "Obviously with a country that was embargoed for 50 years there wasn't a lot of data".
The airline said it has added 44 routes this year and is planning for almost 8 percent network growth in 2018, primarily by bolstering capacity in its existing markets.
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