Trump Administration Takes Contradictory Decision About Cuba Travel Options
Commercial Equivalent Of A Jekyll & Hyde Moment
A Very “Good Friday” For U.S. Airlines & Cuba
American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest And United/Mesa Obtain New Routes
A Blue State Victory
Easter Bunny’s Delivers A US$495 Million Basket To Cuba
On 30 March 2018, or “Good Friday” to millions of followers of Christ in the United States and in the Republic of Cuba, the Trump Administration quietly provided a further monetary lifeline to the government of the Republic of Cuba and, specifically, to entities within the country controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) of the Republic of Cuba.
It was a very good Friday for the Republic of Cuba. If the newly-allocated flights are at capacity on an annual basis, the total value (including their round-trip airfares) of passenger expenditures could be approximately US$495 million; at 60% capacity, the value could be approximately US$300 million.
The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) could have denied any or all of the applications by United States airlines for additional service to the Republic of Cuba, using the phrase that permitting such activity would be “inconsistent with United States policy” as the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury has for decades when an application for an activity is denied. For example, the U.S. Food & Agribusiness Exhibition held in Havana, Republic of Cuba, in September 2002, was denied a license by the OFAC for three years before inter-agency review and approval by the United States Department of State.
Excerpts from the USDOT filing….
By this order the Department tentatively allocates the four daily and six weekly available frequencies to provide scheduled services between the United States and Havana, Cuba. The Department also tentatively approves the request of United Airlines, Inc. (United) and Mesa Airlines, Inc. (Mesa) for flexibility to use either carrier’s aircraft in the Houston-Havana market.
Under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United States and Cuba, signed February 16, 2016, U.S. carriers may operate up to twenty (20) daily combination or all-cargo scheduled round-trip frequencies between the United States and Havana, Cuba.”
The most consequential decision by the USDOT was to award Long Island City, New York-based JetBlue Airways service from Logan International Airport (BOS) in Boston, Massachusetts, to Jose Marti International Airport (HAV) in Havana, Republic of Cuba.
While the USDOT did reference the impact to all United States airlines by changes to OFAC and United States Department of State regulations implemented by the Trump Administration, nevertheless, the USDOT stated that Boston is “home to healthcare, biotechnology, and educational institutions that JetBlue and the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) assert could support authorized travel to Cuba outside of the “family visits” category.” Thus, the USDOT confirms that there are opportunities for commercial engagement that should not be impeded by a denial of the application by JetBlue Airways.
The Department also tentatively allocates one weekly frequency to JetBlue for its proposed Boston-Havana service on Saturdays. Unlike the other proposals in this proceeding, Boston does not have any nonstop scheduled Havana service and JetBlue’s Boston proposal would establish a new gateway to Havana at a major northeastern city that is home to healthcare, biotechnology, and educational institutions that JetBlue and the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) assert could support authorized travel to Cuba outside of the “family visits” category.”
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