The Trump administration’s newly imposed restrictions on travel to Cuba were expected to have a chilling effect on U.S. tourism to the island nation, but maybe not so quickly.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury last week announced a handful of restrictions and sanctions that prohibit Cuba visits that were previously allowed under the “people-to-people” provision, and make many hotels and other establishments off limits to U.S. visitors.
As a direct result, Alaska Airlines this week announced it will terminate its daily flights between Los Angeles and Havana, effective January 22, 2018.
In its news release, Alaska noted that 80 percent of its Cuba-bound flyers traveled under the people-to-people tourism exemption, which is no longer allowed under the new federal travel guidelines. The airline will redeploy its affected aircraft on routes where demand remains strong.
Alaska isn’t alone in changing its Cuba flight plans. Minneapolis-based Sun Country has relinquished its rights to fly from its hub to Santa Clara and Matanzas, and American will discontinue its Miami-Cienfuegos flights in January.
When the dust settles, Americans interested in visiting Cuba will have far fewer options, as more and more U.S. carriers scale back or eliminate entirely their Cuba services.
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.