Last summer the first U.S. commercial flights to Cuba in more than half a century took off to jubilant fanfare - and landed to cheers and water cannon salutes. U.S. airlines were giddy about resuming commercial flights to the communist island.
Maybe too giddy.
On Monday, the Fort Lauderdale-based Silver Airways said it will drop its almost 20 weekly flights to Cuba next month. Frontier Airlines said it will cease its Miami-to-Havana service in June. Both companies cited weak demand and excess capacity.
They’re not alone. American Airlines recently dropped a number of its daily flights to Cuba. JetBlue is flying smaller aircraft to Cuba now, reducing its seats on those flights by 300 a day.
This despite the fact that Cuba saw a 74 percent rise in the number of U.S. citizens traveling there last year. The only explanation is that U.S. airlines simply overestimated the market – a lot.
In its statement, Silver Airways claims that since last summer there’s been a 300 percent increase in flight capacity between the U.S. and Cuba.
Experts say one factor is that U.S. travelers have discovered Cuba’s tourism infrastructure – especially hotel capacity – is still fairly deficient. That’s one reason the number of passengers to Cuba on cruise ships – which carry their own hotel rooms – is expected to rise this year.