US airline JetBlue suspends flights to Cuba
September 2, 2023 12:30 PM
JetBlue, the first US airline to resume regular flights to Cuba after diplomatic ties were restored, said Friday it was suspending all routes to the island due to restrictions faced by travelers.
Amid great fanfare, the New York-based airline carried out the first commercial flight to Cuba in 2016 in five decades after a historic rapprochement between the former Cold War foes.
"Demand for travel to the island has been significantly affected by restrictions on travel to Cuba that were put in place after we launched service," the airline said in a statement, announcing a halt to services to the island on September 17.
The airline did not expand on the restrictions it was referring to.
Three years after flights resumed, President Donald Trump suspended them to all cities except the capital, Havana, as he sought to roll back ties established under his predecessor Barack Obama.
In 2022, President Joe Biden's government allowed the flights to resume.
Tougher sanctions under Trump and the Covid pandemic battered Cuba's tourism industry which is the main source of exchange for the communist government.
Washington still officially bans Americans from visiting Cuba as tourists, but travel is permitted for other reasons such as visiting family, or cultural and educational exchanges.
"Exiting Havana will allow us to redeploy additional aircraft on our top performing routes," said JetBlue.