Spirit Airlines, based in Florida, has announced it will end air service to Havana, beginning in early June. The airline has been flying twice daily to the Cuban capital and will cut back to one flight a day between now and June.
In published reports, a spokesperson for the low-cost airline explained that the high cost of flying to Havana did not justify maintaining the schedule, especially since demand has been significantly lower than anticipated. Any passengers currently booked on the afternoon Spirit flight will be rebooked on the morning flight, and anyone holding tickets after the June 1 cutoff will be given a full refund. All passengers affected by the schedule change will be given a $50 voucher for Spirit flights.
Spirit is the fifth U.S. airline to cut back or end their service to Cuba since carriers began flying to the island last year. Late last year, American Airlines announced cutbacks in its flights, along with JetBlue. Last month, both Frontier and Silver Airways announced they would stop flying to Cuba early this summer.
Six carriers were originally granted permits to fly to nine Cuban cities other than Havana in mid-2016. Havana routes were opened up a few months later to a total of eight carriers, some of which already had been granted routes to the other Cuban destinations.
Airline industry experts have said that the original enthusiasm was based on very little actual passenger data and that the demand for seats did match the more optimistic projections for new visitors to Cuba.