American Airlines launches cargo services to Cuba

We are finally witnessing air cargo operations launch between Cuba and the United States, after the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) awarded American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest and United Airlines slots at José Martí International Airport (HAV) after a year of eerie silence surrounding what was initially a hot topic in the air freight world.

Small and large U.S.-based carriers have already been in operation, connecting various U.S. hubs to HAV, since the Obama administration restored flights to Cuba in 2016 for the first time in over 50 years. However, American Airlines said in a statement today that it is the first U.S.-based carrier to begin operating cargo-carrying flights between the U.S. and the island nation.

After a tug-of-war ensued for slots at HAV following 2016’s policy changes, many carriers, including Alaska Airlines and Delta, withdrew newly launched services, presumably for lack of financial viability.

One potential culprit for the sluggish demand for air freight to and from the island is the nation’s proximity to Florida and the non-perishable nature of its exports, like sugar, tobacco and spirits, which enable forwarders to opt for the much less expensive transportation option, ocean freight.

American Airlines is offering mail service, parcels and express mail on a once-daily fight from Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT), and four-times daily service from Miami International Airport (MIA), which the airline says it will increase to five daily flights in October. The other above-named airlines have also publicized their new routes, but have yet to announce the launch dates of the services.

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