Southwest will drop two of its routes between Cuba and the U.S. later this year. Flights to Varadero and Santa Clara will end September 4. Southwest will continue to service its route to Havana.
“Our decision to discontinue the flights [to Varadero and Santa Clara] comes after an in-depth analysis of our performance over several months which confirmed that there is not a clear path to sustainability serving these markets, particularly with the continuing prohibition in U.S. law on tourism to Cuba for American citizens,” said Steve Goldberg, Senior Vice President of G\
\round Operations at Southwest.
Southwest currently operates five daily flights between the U.S. and Cuba. It flies between Fort Lauderdale and Havana twice daily, and between Tampa and Havana once a day. The carrier also flies from Fort Lauderdale to Santa Clara and Varadero once per day.
Southwest isn’t the only U.S. airline to cut back on service to Cuba. Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and Silver Airways have completely canceled service to Cuba amid financial troubles due to overcapacity in the market, high operating costs, and low demand. American Airlines and JetBlue have both cut back on their service to the country, including introducing smaller aircraft to routes into and out of Cuba and cancelling service to certain cities. Click here to read an analysis on U.S. airlines in Cuba.
Southwest began service to Cuba last November, when they began service to Varadero. The flights began soon after a ban on U.S. residents traveling to Cuba was lifted last year. However, U.S. President Donald Trump has started tightening restrictions again, most recently with action that could prevent U.S. businesses from operating in the country.
Despite dropping two cities, Southwest hasn’t completely given up on Cuba yet. They recently requested the right to add additional flights between Havana and Fort Lauderdale.