DUBLIN—United Airlines has taken a “reasoned” approach in its application for flights between the U.S. and Cuba, maximizing what it calls geographical diversity in the U.S. for flights to Havana.
The Chicago-based carrier has applied for flights to Havana from its hubs at Newark, Washington Dulles International Airport, Chicago and Houston. These flights will satisfy demand for access to Cuba from regions beyond southern Florida, Steve Morrissey, United’s vice president–regulatory and policy, told Aviation Daily at the IATA annual general meeting here.
Most other U.S. carriers have focused their Cuba applications on flights from southern Florida, home to the largest Cuban-diaspora population in the U.S. “We have taken a different approach from other carriers and have spread those opportunities throughout our network,” Morrissey said.
The U.S.–Cuba bilateral air services agreement allows 20 daily flights to Havana, and 10 daily flights to each of nine other cities on the island. American Airlines alone has applied for 14 daily flights to Havana, while Southwest Airlines has applied for nine, and JetBlue Airways has applied for 12 (Aviation Daily, March 15).
United’s application is for one daily Newark–Havana flight, along with an additional weekly frequency from that city, and one flight per week from each airport in the Washington-Dulles, Chicago and Houston group, Morrissey said. The system is optimized so flights from the West Coast can connect to Cuba through either Chicago or Houston.
Although the New York area has a large Cuban diaspora population, serving that market is not United’s focus, Morrissey said. “There is significant demand from other parts of the country, served by our hubs, to Cuba beyond South Florida,” he said.