On August 31, U.S.-based airline JetBlue announced that it has decided to suspend all flights to Cuba, effective September 17. In 2016, when U.S.-Cuba relations began to thaw, JetBlue flew the first direct commercial flight to Cuba from the United States in 50 years. American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest, and Delta will still provide direct flights to Cuba from the United States, however, United will cut its direct flights from Newark, New Jersey in October.
“Demand for travel to the island has been significantly affected by changes to the regulatory landscape and restrictions on our customers’ ability to enter Cuba,” stated the airline.
U.S.-Cuba relations began to thaw during Barack Obama’s presidency. Obama announced that the United States would normalize relations with Cuba and took the island off of the U.S. State Sponsors of Terrorism (SSOT) list in May 2015. His successor, former President Donald Trump, essentially reversed this entire process, once again adding Cuba to the SSOT list right before he left office and piling on an additional 243 sanctions against the socialist nation. President Joe Biden has left these Trump-era sanctions largely untouched, despite protests against the heightened U.S. blockade against Cuba.
U.S.-based Cuba solidarity group the National Network on Cuba stated, “Airlines suspending their flights to Cuba is a huge hit to the Cuban tourism industry, which is Cuba’s biggest source of income. The Biden administration is continuing Trump’s course of reversing U.S.-Cuba normalization and tightening the economic stranglehold of the island.”