Today Is About “Re-“ As In “Re-Establishing”
Flight Is Not “The” Moment; It’s “A” Moment
A Transformative Moment
What’s To Come?
JetBlue flight 387 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Santa Clara, Republic of Cuba, should not be viewed as the end of “the embargo.” It’s a moment in a series of moments that is the bilateral relationship between the United States and the Republic of Cuba.
Important to remember the numbers:
Fifteen years since the last United States law was enacted that focused upon the Republic of Cuba; ironically, signed by then-President William Clinton- a result was re-authorizing agricultural commodity and food product exports, but creating (codifying) twelve categories of travel- which excluded tourism.
President Barack Obama has 142 days remaining in his term.
Today is the 625th day since 17 December 2014, the joint announcements by President Obama and Raul Castro…. And during that time, no legislation has become law despite substantial expenditures of resources by individuals, organizations, and companies. What changes have been implemented are a result of altering and creating regulations; that’s where the focus is and should remain.
This is a transformative moment. Yesterday, a passenger had to endure a journey to the Republic of Cuba on a charter flight- perhaps a JetBlue aircraft paid for by a third party who then sold tickets in order to repay JetBlue; the aircraft would have a JetBlue crew, but that is where the comfort ended.
Sometimes, tickets would be need to be paid for in cash; they often would not be refundable or changeable (because one charter operation would not necessarily honor travelers from another charter operation), the schedules would be inconvenient, the airfares would be high, the customer service would be terrible, and the benefits non-existent.
Today, a traveler may use frequent flyer miles for a ticket, may earn miles for the flight, may upgrade to first class, select seats in advance, will have access to airport lounges, will be able to use credit cards, make changes to reservations, obtain refunds, make a complaint and obtain a resolution, find lower ticket prices, and, most importantly, do it all using the Internet. Earning something from traveling to somewhere is an important component of today’s traveler profile.
Where charter flights reinforced an aura of restriction, illegitimacy, forbidding, stress; the re-establishment of regularly-scheduled commercial airline service welcomes consistency, comfort, normalcy and accountability.
Accountability to the passenger in the form of improved passenger service at Republic of Cuba's immigration, customs and airport facilities. United States airlines will be changing the Republic of Cuba; the Republic of Cuba will not be changing United States airlines.
Important to note that the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) has authorized approximately 1.2 million passenger seats for the US-Cuba routes; less than the 3.4 million requested by airlines.
There have been and will continue to be enormous infrastructure challenges within the Republic of Cuba that will severely impact the country’s ability to absorb the new arrivals; changing this reality will take years, not months.
The Republic of Cuba has become increasingly expensive- hotels that should be charging US$99.00 per night are charging US$350.00 per night; that’s unsustainable and dangerous from a marketing perspective. Most visitors from the United States need to visit or want to visit Havana; neither the number of hotel rooms or the quality of hotel rooms exists today to accommodate the demand.
The United States business community expects that authorization by the government of the Republic of Cuba for American Airlines to operate a ticket office in Havana will lead to the authorization of offices for other, non-hospitality-related United States-based companies.
The re-establishment of regularly-scheduled commercial airline services between the two countries is a transformative moment in the bilateral relationship; one of many during the last fifty-six years… and continues the re-normalization process.
The airlines appreciate that they have 142 days remaining in the Obama Administration, so every effort is being made to have as established an operation as possible so that the time may be used to seek further regulatory and policy expansions in the United States and in the Republic of Cuba. And, having service to the Republic of Cuba will provide marketing value for an airline's entire route system.
Don’t be surprised if the USDOT awards a Washington Dulles to Havana route; There is much symbolism linking capital-to-capital.
What United States Companies Continue To Seek From The Obama Administration:
- Authorize all commercial activity under a general license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury and Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the
- United States Department of Commerce, including Direct Foreign Investment (DFI)
- Issue a general license from the OFAC for all vessels pursuant to the 180-day provision of the Cuban Democracy Act (CDA) of 1992
- Authorize all transactions with Republic of Cuba government-operated companies
- Authorize all imports under general license
- Authorize all exports under general license
- Authorize Republic of Cuba government-operated financial institutions to have accounts with United States-based financial institutions for the purpose of correspondent activities
- File motions to dismiss unwarranted civil judgements against the Republic of Cuba
- Announce specific progress for the settlement of the 5,913 claims certified with the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission (FCSC) within the United States Department of Justice