United States Suspends Flights To All Cuban Destinations Except For Havana

Yesterday the White House announced that flights scheduled for nine locations in Cuba are being suspended. According to Newsweek, this is being done to stop the flow of money from American leisure travelers to the Cuban government – which supports the Maduro regime of Venezuela.

American Airlines
American Airlines is focusing on additional connectivity and leisure destinations this winter. Photo: Airbus

From the Secretary of State

The United States’ Department of State issued the notice on its website. The introduction to the advisory is as follows:

“At the request of the Secretary of State, the U.S. Department of Transportation suspended until further notice scheduled air service between the United States and Cuban international airports other than Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport to prevent the Cuban regime from profiting from U.S. air travel. U.S. air carriers will have 45 days to discontinue all scheduled air service between the United States and all airports in Cuba, except for Jose Marti International Airport.”

The statement goes on to say that the policy aims to impede “the Cuban regime from gaining access to hard currency from U.S. travelers staying in its state-controlled resorts, visiting state-owned attractions, and otherwise contributing to the Cuban regime’s coffers” in the vicinity of these airports.

United States Suspends Flights To All Cuban Destinations Except For Havana
United Express (operated by Mesa Airlines) flies the E175 from Houston to Havana. Photo: Embraer

Existing policies

This travel ban is a clear reversal of a 2016 Obama-era policy that allowed scheduled commercial flights from the United States to Cuba. Prior to 2016, only charter flights between Cuba and the United States were allowed.

According to American Airlines, travel to Cuba from or through the U.S. for tourism is already not allowed. Imposed in June 2019, there are only 13 permitted reasons for travel to the island nation. These include:

  • Family visits
  • Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments and certain intergovernmental organizations
  • Journalistic activities
  • Professional research or professional meetings
  • Educational academic activities
  • People-to-people exchanges (for travel-related transactions purchased prior to June 5, 2019)
  • Religious activities
  • Public performance, clinics, workshops, athletic or other competitions and exhibitions
  • Support for the Cuban people
  • Humanitarian projects
  • Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
  • Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials
  • Travel related to certain authorized export transactions

The June announcement also saw the Trump administration ban cruise ships traveling to Cuba as well as private planes and yachts.

The impact on US aviation

Embraer Emb190-100IGW ‘N198JB’ JetBlue
JetBlue flies to Cuba from four US cities. Photo: Alan Wilson via Flickr

Yahoo News reports that airlines American and JetBlue are affected by the travel ban. Cuban destinations that these airlines fly to include Camaguey, Santiago de Cuba (the country’s second-largest city), and the popular resort-rich city of Varadero.

In fact, a spokesperson for American Airlines states:

“We are reviewing today’s announcement regarding service to non-Havana airports in Cuba. We will continue to comply with federal law, work with the administration, and update our policies and procedures regarding travel to Cuba as necessary.”

American Airlines currently operates 11 daily flights to the country – mostly from its hub in Miami. This includes six to Havana and one each to Varadero, Camagüey, Santa Clara, Holguín, and Santiago. JetBlue flies nonstop routes to Cuban cities from New York, Boston, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.
These airlines now have just 45 days to finish operations in the nine now-restricted destinations. The hard deadline imposed by the US government is December 10th. Delta Air Lines serves Havana from Atlanta, and Miami and will, therefore, see no impact from this new policy.

Yahoo News also reports that charter flights between Cuba and Miami will still be able to fly despite the new policy set forth by the White House.


Unfortunately, this policy will come into effect just as many Americans will be heading to warm and sunny southern destinations to escape the cold winter. Do you know anyone affected by this policy? Will this simply drive Americans to circumvent the system and travel via Canada and Mexico? Let us know in the comments.