New York-based JetBlue Airways wants to grow its service to Havana, after Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines announced that they would leave Cuba in the coming months.
JetBlue has applied to US regulators for seven weekly frequencies that it plans to use for additional flights between Fort Lauderdale and Havana, and new nonstop service from Boston to the Cuban capital. Frontier and Spirit will return 21 weekly Havana frequencies when they cease service to Cuba.
JetBlue aims to launch flights on 1 November, it says in a filing with the US Department of Transportation.
It is one of the largest players in the US-Cuba market, since scheduled service between the two countries resumed in August 2016. The airline operated the first scheduled flight to Cuba after a hiatus of more than 50 years.
The carrier plans to use six of the requested seven weekly frequencies for flights between Fort Lauderdale and Havana, and the remaining frequency for Saturday service from Boston. It will operate 162-seat Airbus A320s on the routes.
JetBlue already flies 13 times weekly to Havana from Fort Lauderdale, a route on which it will compete against Southwest Airlines when Spirit exits after 31 May.
American Airlines and Delta Air Lines will be the remaining airlines operating between Miami and Havana, after Frontier withdraws from the route in early June.
Both Spirit and Frontier cited high operating costs in Cuba and weaker than expected demand behind their decision to leave the market. Spirit is operating twice daily to Havana from Fort Lauderdale, while Frontier offers daily service from Miami.
JetBlue will be the only airline offering nonstop service between Boston and Havana. It now operates six routes to Cuba, including three to the capital.
if JetBlue succeeds in obtaining all seven additional weekly frequencies from US regulators, 14 weekly frequencies for Havana service will remain.
Story updated with details on frequency allocation