Sunday, July 22, 2018
Business

Tampa may get an additional flight to Havana

Tampa could soon add another commercial flight to Havana.

Southwest Airlines, which has provided one daily flight between Tampa International Airport and Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport since December 2016, is among three commercial airlines competing for an additional Saturday route to Cuba’s capital city.

The other two are JetBlue Airways, which would fly the Saturday route to Havana via Fort Lauderdale, and American Airlines, which would do so from Miami.

The Department of Transportation, which will decide which airline gets this route, made the announcement on July 6.

According to a memorandum of understanding between the United States and Cuba, there can be no more than 20 daily commercial flights from this country to Havana. Airlines can only pick up new routes if an allocated flight is dropped.

RELATED: Trump’s tougher Cuba policy having little impact on Tampa area

The route soon to be available currently belongs to Delta Air Lines and flies on Saturdays out of New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Delta will drop that service on Sept. 1.

The DOT has not said when the decision will be made. But Sandy Rederer, a commercial aviation consultant based in Sarasota, expects the DOT wants the flight to takeoff soon after Delta ceases its JFK to Havana route.

The DOT stated, "The principal objective in this proceeding will be to maximize public benefits."

In its application, Southwest said the Tampa area is home to more than 123,500 residents of Cuban descent and that Tampa and Havana have strong family, business and educational ties.

In its answer to JetBlue’s application filed with the DOT, Southwest then argued that an additional Tampa flight is the only one that will increase Havana service from "a gateway outside of South Florida, thus benefitting consumers with a geographical choice of gateways."

On average, Southwest said, its 175-seat Tampa to Havana flights carry 126 passengers, whereas JetBlue carries 95 passengers between Fort Lauderdale and Havana on aircrafts that average 134 seats.

"Clearly there is a greater demand" for an additional Tampa to Havana flight on Saturdays, Southwest wrote.

According to the Tampa airport’s most recent statistics, 84,763 passengers flew between Tampa and Havana through May of this fiscal year. That’s up from 63,635 during the same period in 2017, an increase of 33 percent. Those numbers also include charter flights whose frequencies change by the season.

"Having the country’s third largest Cuban American population in the Tampa Bay area, we are not surprised by the success of TPA’s flights to the island nation," airport spokesperson Emily Nipps wrote in an email.

That the Tampa area is a lesser-served Cuba commercial flight market could make it the frontrunner, said consultant Rederer.

The bulk of the United States to Havana commercial flights are already out of the South Florida area.

There are seven such daily flights out of Miami, according to the DOT. And six days a week, half a dozen fly from Fort Lauderdale to Havana with four doing so on Saturdays. Tampa has just the one commercial flight a day provided by Southwest.

"If Southwest gets one extra flight a week, it could increase capacity by 10 percent," consultant Rederer said. "If one a week gets added to Miami, you’d get maybe a 3 percent increase."

Contact Paul Guzzo at [email protected] Follow @PGuzzoTimes.

Comments
Some not-so-tiny obstacles in the growing market for tiny houses

Some not-so-tiny obstacles in the growing market for tiny houses

When Tom Alsani heard about plans for a tiny-home community in St. Petersburg, he got so excited he immediately wanted to know more. "Right now I have a house with three bedrooms but the kids are gone and I’m trying to downsize,’’ says Alsani, a qual...
Published: 07/23/18
At beach resorts, this bizarre sunscreen booth can mean business

At beach resorts, this bizarre sunscreen booth can mean business

Nothing will ruin your beach vacation faster than a sunburn.Get scorched, and suddenly everything that was meant to be fun isn’t: Massages at the spa hurt, day-drinking by the pool hurts, getting on jet skis hurts. Listening to your skincare-obsessed...
Published: 07/22/18
He was fired after an encounter with a ‘racist’ customer. After sharing his story, Home Depot changed its mind.

He was fired after an encounter with a ‘racist’ customer. After sharing his story, Home Depot changed its mind.

After a man last Thursday approached the checkout at a Home Depot in Albany, New York, staff member Maurice Rucker asked him to leash his dog. That’s when the man exploded.Rucker, a 60-year-old black man, claimed he was fired Tuesday after defending ...
Published: 07/21/18
Open office plans are as bad as you thought

Open office plans are as bad as you thought

A cubicle-free workplace without private offices is supposed to force employees to collaborate. To have them talk more face-to-face. To get them off instant messenger and spontaneously brainstroming about new ideas.But a recent study by two researche...
Published: 07/21/18
Rays 2020 brings ‘road show’ to Sun City Center Chamber

Rays 2020 brings ‘road show’ to Sun City Center Chamber

SUN CITY CENTER — Business leaders and volunteers determined to help the Rays baseball team find a new stadium home in Ybor City are willing to go to every corner of Tampa Bay to raise awareness and support.Including Sun City Center.Tampa Bay Rays 20...
Published: 07/20/18
Updated: 07/22/18
Officials speak out against demolition plans for historic Jordan Park section

Officials speak out against demolition plans for historic Jordan Park section

ST. PETERSBURG — Pinellas County School board chair Rene Flowers was fired up Friday. She talked about growing up in Jordan Park, the city’s first public housing project and a sentimental and historic marker of St. Petersburg’s African-American commu...
Published: 07/20/18
Florida is still paying SunPass contractor, even after officials said they would stop

Florida is still paying SunPass contractor, even after officials said they would stop

Florida has not stopped paying the SunPass contractor responsible for the tolling system’s outage, even after transportation officials said the state would suspend all payments.In a letter on Monday, FDOT secretary Mike Dew said the state would not p...
Published: 07/20/18
Florida among the top 3 states with the most income inequality

Florida among the top 3 states with the most income inequality

Florida is one of three states in the nation with the biggest income gap between the very rich and everyone else.In 2015, a family in the top 1 percent nationally had an average income of more than $1.3 million — or 26.3 times as much as the $50,107 ...
Published: 07/20/18
Tampa International Airport ranked in top 10 for defense against cyber threats

Tampa International Airport ranked in top 10 for defense against cyber threats

TAMPA — Tampa International Airport was ranked this week as the 10th safest U.S. airport to go online without being hacked, but the ranking is not only about the place, but also about how savvy its travelers are.The data security firm Coronet ranked ...
Published: 07/20/18
When suicide threats come calling: ‘I try to make a connection.’

When suicide threats come calling: ‘I try to make a connection.’

TAMPA — At first glance, it’s a typical office with more than a dozen cubicles under florescent lights. The operators wear headsets and stare into computer screens, some tinkering with handheld toys, others browsing Facebook or chatting with colleagu...
Published: 07/20/18