JetBlue suspends all flights to Cuba

JetBlue, which became the first US airline in 50 years to fly direct to Cuba in 2016, is suspending all flights to the island due to “changes to the regulatory landscape”

September 01, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch

On August 31, US-based airline JetBlue announced that it has suspended all flights to Cuba, effective September 17. In 2016, when US-Cuba relations began to thaw, JetBlue flew the first direct commercial flight to Cuba from the US in 50 years. American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest, and Delta will still provide direct flights to Cuba from the US, however, United will cut its direct flights from Newark, New Jersey in October.

“Demand for travel to the island has been significantly affected by changes to the regulatory landscape and restrictions on our customers’ ability to enter Cuba,” stated the airline. “We look forward to resuming our service to Havana and continuing to pursue opportunities within Cuba should travel become more accessible in the future.”

US-Cuba relations began to thaw during Barack Obama’s presidency. Obama announced that the US would normalize relations with Cuba and took the island off of the US State Sponsors of Terrorism (SSoT) list in May 2015. His successor Donald Trump essentially reversed this entire process, re-adding Cuba to the SSoT list right before he left office and piling on an additional 243 sanctions against the socialist nation. Current President Joe Biden has left these Trump-era sanctions largely untouched, despite protests against the heightened US blockade against Cuba.

US-based Cuba solidarity group the National Network on Cuba has stated, “Airlines suspending their flights to Cuba is a huge hit to the Cuban tourism industry, which is Cuba’s biggest source of income. The Biden administration is continuing Trump’s course of reversing US-Cuba normalization and tightening the economic stranglehold of the island.”