Apparently, the city of Tampa officials who were frothing at the mouth just a couple of years ago to do business with the Castro dictatorship really overestimated the amount of callous, human zoo enthusiast American tourists they could attract to their airport for flights to Cuba. As appealing as a visit to the island prison to enjoy the sight of human misery and be waited on by exotic dancing and singing slaves may be for these aforementioned tourists, with so many carriers, there is just not enough of them to produce a profit.
Carriers dropping Tampa-Cuba charter flights
TAMPA Tampa International Airport is losing one of its three Cuba charter carriers and two of its five weekly flights to the island nation next month.
The changes, which come less than a year and a half after direct flights began from Tampa to Cuba, could eventually mean higher air fares for those flights.
XAEL Charters Inc. will discontinue its Tampa-Havana flight Feb. 14 and plans to relocate to Cuba from Fort Lauderdale sometime this year. In addition, ABC Charters will end its flights from Tampa to Holguin, Cuba, on Feb. 28.
Island Travel & Tours Ltd., the only one of the charter carriers based in Tampa, will maintain its Wednesday and Sunday flights between Tampa and Havana. Miami-based ABC Charters will maintain its Saturday flight between Tampa and Havana.
“Given that this is first time in more than 50 years for air service between Cuba and Tampa, it is natural to see some adjustments as the market evolves,” Tampa International spokeswoman Janet Zink said.
Fewer flights could mean those remaining will be more full, helping the charter operators improve their ratio of costs to revenue.
But the competition between the three carriers meant each was reluctant to increase price air fares and baggage fees. Fares may need to rise beyond current levels of about $420 round trip, though, for the carriers to make a profit.
Mercy Casals, executive vice president and general manager of XAEL Charters, said the flights to Cuba were successful during high-travel times like the summer, Christmas and spring break. During other periods, she said, there was a drop in the number of passengers.
“There were flights that were more profitable than others,” she said.