Spanish Airline Iberojet to Suspend All Flights to Cuba
The Spanish airline Iberojet, known for its affordability among Cuban emigrants, has announced that it will suspend all flights to Cuba. The news was shared on social media by the Viajes On Time agency, stating that the airline’s last flight to the island will take place on January 10. Despite the confirmation, Iberojet has not issued an official statement regarding the suspension.
The cancellation of Iberojet’s flights to Cuba comes after it had previously announced the cancellation of its flights to Santiago de Cuba, which were set to begin in November 2022. The airline cited “operational reasons” for the cancellation, but sources familiar with the situation have revealed that low flight occupancy and the general state of the destination were the main causes.
This suspension of flights adds to the ongoing withdrawal of US airlines from the Cuban market. Just this week, Southwest Airlines also announced the cancellation of its flights from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Havana, joining JetBlue, Delta, and United in reducing or suspending their frequencies to the island. Southwest will now only operate flights to Cuba from Tampa.
The crisis in Cuban tourism has been evident, with the quality of services increasingly under scrutiny compared to competing destinations such as the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Last June, it was reported that flights to Cuba from Spain by Iberia, World2fly, Iberojet, and Air Europa were experiencing low occupancy.
While the number of international visitors to Cuba has increased compared to last year, it is still far from the target of 3.5 million for this year. The main countries contributing to tourism in Cuba are Canada, the United States, Russia, Spain, Germany, and France. However, the figures also include Cuban emigrants who typically do not tour the country or stay in hotels.
The decline in visitors to Cuba has been a persistent problem, with the country receiving only 1.6 million international travelers in 2022, below the initial objective of 1.7 million. Before the pandemic, the island typically welcomed between 4 and 5 million tourists annually.
In contrast, other destinations in the region such as Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and Cancún in Mexico have been experiencing record-high visitor numbers following the pandemic.
The situation surrounding Iberojet’s suspension of flights highlights the challenges faced by the Cuban tourism industry, as well as the need for significant improvements in infrastructure and visitor experiences to attract more tourists to the island.