“American” travelers dominate US flights to Cuba

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While the impact of President Donald Trump’s June announcement to curtail individual travel to Cuba remains to be seen, more U.S. travelers visited the island in the first six months of 2017 than all of 2016. And for the first time, the number of non-Cuban U.S. travelers has surpassed the number of Cuban-Americans visiting the island.

Last year 291,936 non-Cuban U.S. travelers visited Cuba. In the first six months of 2017, that number had already reached 292,918.

During the first half of 2017, only 206,707 Cuban-Americans visited, along with 52,041 Cubans who flew back to the island after visiting the U.S. By comparison, 514,325 Cuban Americans visited the island last year, far more than the total number of non-Cuban U.S. visitors.

Based on the results from the first half of 2017, more than 1 million travelers are expected to fly from the U.S. to Cuba by the end of the year. The island may see a boost in arrivals from Cuban-Americans as they tend to visit in July, August and December due to summer vacations and the end-of-year holiday season. This would represent more than 25 percent growth from last year’s 806,261 total U.S. visitors.

Based on the number of passengers and the number of flights made from the U.S. to Cuba, it can be calculated that the average occupancy rate per aircraft was about 51 percent. When the new measures announced by the Trump administration take effect, it is likely that occupancy rates will decrease, which could lead some U.S. airlines to scale back their service to the island.

If we include cruise trips, the statistics show that the total number of passengers traveling to Cuba from the U.S. in the first half of 2017 was 607,556 passengers.

 

Emilio Morales is CEO of the Havana Consulting Group

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