Commercial flights to Cuba could bring mixed results for travellers

Posted: 25-Aug-15 10:25

If scheduled commercial flights were finally allowed by the US government it would certainly make travelling to the island easier; however travel experts believe this could also sky-rocket the price of hotels and tours in Cuba.

Commercial flights to Cuba could bring mixed results for travellers

As more charter flights to Cuba are added by American tour operators, airports and airlines, the demand of Cuba travel continues to grow significantly. If President Obama's plan, to make scheduled air service to the island a reality by the end of the year, proves to be successful, the outcome could be both beneficial and inconvenient for travellers.

Will this transformation benefit travellers?

On a positive note, getting to the island would be significantly easier. Passengers would be able to book non-stop flights from many U.S. airports, check their baggage all the way through to Cuba and put aside the need to spend a night in Miami before a morning charter flight. Moreover, travellers would not have to pay the handling fee that Cuba charges charter operators, and that is valued in $236 per person.

The flip side: Cuba's infrastructure is not yet ready to accommodate an upheaval of American tourists. According to several tour operators that include Cuba in their charters, the island's insufficient infrastructure and lack of hotel rooms would mean that prices on hotel rates and tours could sky-rocket, making it a lot more expensive for potential visitors.

President of Ya'lla Tours USA, Ronen Paldi shared his views on the matter:

"If scheduled air will be allowed, it can dramatically change the travel scene when it comes to pricing and scheduling. The demand for travel from the U.S. will increase, and when the Cubans cannot meet the demand, scheduled flights will push [hotel and tour prices] higher than they already are."

US airlines on the get-go for the future

If commercial flights became available the first companies to jump in would surely be the ones that already operate charter flights to the island. American Airlines, JetBlue, Delta Air Lines and Unites Airlines are all following the process closely, prepared to enter the market as soon as legally permitted.

American Airlines, which just announced service from Los Angeles to Havana starting on December, already operates 22 weekly charter flights to different Cuban cities, including the capital, Camaguey, Cienfuegos, Holguin and Santa Clara.

"Once we get the green light to offer regularly scheduled service, we are ready to go."

Said recently American Airlines spokeswoman Martha Pantin.

JetBlue, who has operated charter service to Cuba from Tampa, and recently from New York, is also expecting to engage in commercial service as soon as possible. Tamara Young, JetBlue spokeswoman declared:

"We have built experience operating in Cuba with our charters to help us to be ready to go with scheduled service once permitted. Demand for our JFK flight has been growing briskly, and we've been at or near capacity in recent weeks for all our Cuba flights."

Finally, Delta and United also strongly support the process of permitting scheduled service to resume between the U.S. and Cuba and plan to serve the market as soon as it is legal.


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