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American and JetBlue seek extra Havana flights

American Airlines and JetBlue Airways are seeking additional Havana frequencies, while Delta Air Lines plans to return six weekly frequencies as it cuts service to the Cuban capital from New York.

American and JetBlue are the only airlines who amended their applications requesting Havana rights, which the US Department of Transportation (DOT) is re-assigning after three other airlines decided to end service.

Fort Worth-based American has applied for seven additional weekly frequencies, on top of the 10 weekly frequencies it requested in September. American plans to use the seven additional frequencies to boost flights on its route between Miami and Havana.

JetBlue is also seeking seven additional weekly frequencies, to launch service between Tampa and Havana - a route served by only Southwest Airlines. Including Tampa, New York-based JetBlue is requesting for a total of 28 weekly frequencies to Havana.

It has placed six-times-weekly service from Fort Lauderdale and Saturday-only service from Boston as its first priority in receiving frequencies. The newly proposed Tampa service is in second place, followed by daily service from New York John F Kennedy in third and daily service from Newark in fourth.

Separately, Delta informed the DOT that it would return six weekly frequencies as it cuts daily New York JFK-Havana service to Saturday-only service from 1 February. The SkyTeam airline points to US regulatory changes that have restricted US citizen travel to Cuba, which has hit demand for flights. "Traffic on Delta's service to Havana from JFK has diminished substantially," says Delta.

Delta says it will not object if the DOT reallocates its six weekly frequencies as part of the current proceeding. This will grow the number of available weekly frequencies to 34.

The 28 other weekly frequencies are being divested by Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines.

Delta itself is seeking seven weekly frequencies for additional flights from Miami to Havana. FedEx, Southwest and United Airlines had previously applied for Frontier and Spirit's frequencies. Their applications remain unchanged.

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