Silver Airways of Fort Lauderdale was the first U.S. airline to book regularly scheduled flights to Cuba. Now that others have stampeded into the market, the small regional carrier is suspending service to the Communist island effective Aopril 22.
In an announcement to the office of John S. Kavulich, president of U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council Inc.,
The company said a lack of demand combined with overcapacity by larger airlines made its Cuba route unprofitable for the Fort Lauderdale-based carrier.
Misty Pinson, director of communication for Silver Airways, in a statement said that while the actual total number of passengers currently traveling to and from Cuba on all carriers combined is in line with what Silver originally projected, other airlines continue to serve this market with too many flights and oversized aircraft, which has led to an increase in capacity of approximately 300% between the U.S. and Cuba.
Silver has maintained from the beginning that these smaller Cuba markets – which are similar to its successful network and fleet strategy in Florida and the Bahamas – are best suited for Silver’s smaller aircraft type, says Pinson.
In addition to overcapacity, other issues have also contributed to the company’s decision: distribution through online travel agencies and codeshare agreements have been unavailable since airlines began servicing Cuba last fall. Now, six months later, this issue is still not fully resolved, resulting in depressed demand, the company says.
Silver Airways will continue to grow its Florida and Bahamas network and its fleet transition strategy to serve more markets further into the Caribbean and other destinations from its key hubs with longer range aircraft.
In addition,Denver, Colorado-based Frontier Airlines is exiting its Miami – Havana route after June 4. As a result, Silver Airways is considering re-applying for the rights to serve Havana, as it continues to monitor the market.
“In the Cuba world, we have two carriers announce they are ending or lessening their services, joining other large carriers in changes based on market reality,” said Kavulich. “ What we have now, is, we are all awaiting policy changes from the Trump administration that will have an impact on travel.”