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Name: CUBANA AIRLINES
7JetSet7 Code: CUB
Status: Operational
Region: LATIN AMERICA
City: HAVANA
Country: CUBA
Employees 2400
Web: cubana.cu
Email: pax@avianet.cu
Telephone: +53 7 649 5777
Fax: +53 7 33 3323
Sita: HAVDDCU
Background
(definitions)

Click below for data links:
CUB-2004-01 - AN-24RV
CUB-2005-06-A
CUB-2005-08-A
CUB-2005-08-B
CUB-2009-09-UPDATE-A
CUB-2009-09-UPDATE-B
CUB-2009-09-UPDATE-C
CUB-2009-09-UPDATE-D
CUB-2009-09-UPDATE-E
CUB-2009-09-UPDATE-F
CUB-2009-09-UPDATE-G
CUB-2009-09-UPDATE-H
CUB-2011-09 - ILYUSHIN ORDERS
CUB-2013-03 TOP 12 AIRLINES TO CUBA

ESTABLISHED IN 1929 AND STARTED OPERATIONS IN 1930. GOVERNMENT TOOK OVER IN 1959. FLAG CARRIER OF CUBA. SCHEDULED & CHARTER, PASSENGER & CARGO, DOMESTIC, REGIONAL, & INTERNATIONAL SERVICES.

ADDRESS:
CALLE 23 PT 64 VEDADO, LA RAMPA
HAVANA 4, CUBA

CUBA (REPUBLIC OF CUBA) WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1902, IT IS AN ISLAND IN THE CARIBBEAN COVERING AN AREA OF 110,861 SQ KM, ITS POPULATION IS 11.5 MILLION, ITS CAPITAL CITY IS HAVANA, AND ITS OFFICIAL LANGUAGE IS SPANISH.

DECEMBER 1995: NEW ROUTE, SANTIAGO (CUBA)/HAVANA, TO BUENOS AIRES (DC-10). 3 F27-600'S (10352; 10353; 10429) BROKEN UP.

JUNE 1997: 1,100 EMPLOYEES.

JULY 1997: ACCDT: (CUB) AN-24 CRASHED INTO CARIBBEAN, ON TAKEOFF FROM SANTIAGO DE CUBA = 44 FATALITIES.

SEPTEMBER 1997: NEW ROUTE TO MENDOZA - SANTIAGO DE CHILE - BOGOTA. TO CAYO LARGO - TORONTO (IL-62).

JANUARY 1998: SANTIAGO - HOLGUIN - HAVANA.

AUGUST 1998: ACCDT: (CUB) TU-154M CRASHES ON TAKEOFF FROM QUITO ECUADOR = 56 FATALITIES OF 14 (FC)-(CA)/76 PASSENGERS + 10 KILLED ON GROUND (720).

3 DC-10-30'S, (AOM) (MNR) LEASED.

OCTOBER 1998: ROME - HAVANA (767-300) OPERATIONS FOR CUBANA AIRLINES (CUB), BY CITYBIRD (CBD).

NOVEMBER 1998: A320 (V2500) (247) TRANSAER (TSD) WET-LEASED 18 MONTHS, FOR SERVICE TO MEXICO CITY, CANCUN, TORONTO, MONTREAL, AND CARACAS.

DECEMBER 1998: 2ND A320 (V2500) (257), (TSD) 18 MONTH WET-LEASED.

APRIL 1999: 1,100 EMPLOYEES. (http://www.cubana.cu).

JULY 1999: NEW SERVICE TO SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA & GUATEMALA.

JOINT VENTURE WITH IBERIA AIRLINES (IBE), FOR NEW CARGO HUB, INCLUDING COLD STORAGE FOR PERISHABLE GOODS, AT HAVANA JOSE MARTI AIRPORT, & NEW START UP AIRLINE UNDER CUBAN FLAG, WITH 4 DC-9'S, FOR JOINT $100 MILLION INVESTMENT.

OCTOBER 1999: 70 YEAR ANNIVERSARY!

NONSTOP CARACAS - VARADERO (A BEACH RESORT IN CUBA).

NOVEMBER 1999: TO GENEVA. CODE SHARE WITH AEROFLOT (ARO), TO MOSCOW AND LIMA, IN JANUARY 2000.

JANUARY 2000: ACCDT: (CUB) DC-10-30 (46890, /73), EX-(AOM) FRENCH (MNR)), CRASHED & DESTROYED, AFTER OVERSHOOTING RUNWAY ON LANDING AT GUATEMALA CITY = 16 FATALITIES +2 ON GROUND.

ACCDT: (CUB) YAK-42 CRASHED IN RUGGED MOUNTAINS NEAR VALENCIA, VENEZUELA = ALL 22 FATALITIES. ON MERCY MISSION TO AID THOUSANDS OF MUDSLIDE DISASTER VICTIMS IN VENEZUELA.

APRIL 2000: CODE SHARE WITH AIR EUROPE ITALY (EIY) TO ROME, AND MILAN FROM HAVANA, CAYO LARGO, AND SANTIAGO DE CUBA (USING (EIY) 767/777).

2,976 EMPLOYEES. (ecadcom@iacc3.get.cma.net).

MAY 2000: CODE SHARE WITH AIR JAMAICA (JAM) TO KINGSTON AND MONTEGO BAY.

JULY 2000: JOINT VENTURE WITH IBERIA AIRLINES (IBE) FOR CARGO AND MAINTENANCE SERVICE AT HAVANA.

1999 = 1.63 MILLION (FTK) FREIGHT TRAFFIC; 1.26 MILLION PASSENGERS (PAX); 2,976 EMPLOYEES.

NOVEMBER 2000: 1 YAK-42 (4520422606204, RA-42335), LEASED FROM TATARSTAN AIRLINES (TAK). 1 AN-24RV (37309108, CU-T1299) DELIVERY.

DECEMBER 2000: 1 737-4K5 (27074, EI-CUN), BLUE PANORAMA AIRLINES (BPA) WET-LEASED. LATER INCREASED TO 3 737-400'S, (BPA) WET-LEASED.

MARCH 2001: 1 A320-233 (1353, N464TA), TACA INTERNATIONAL (TAC) WET-LEASED.

MAY 2001: CODE SHARE WITH SPANAIR (SPP) TO MADRID. RESUMES SERVICE TO LIMA WITH OWN AIRPLANES (WEEKLY).

1 YAK-42D (4520423914340, RA-42374), EX-TATARSTAN AIRLINES (TAK).

SEPTEMBER 2001: SELLS 3 F27-600'S TO MYANMAR AIR (BRM) (10343; 10347; 10352).

JANUARY 2002: TO SANTIAGO.

MAY 2002: 1 YAK-42D (452044811442, CU-T1272), DELIVERY.

July 2002: Cooperative agreement with Air Europa (ARE), with possible code share, airport services, and customer loyalty schemes.

2001 = 3.21 billion (RPK) passenger traffic; 75.6% LF load factor; 944,000 passengers (PAX); 60.97 million (FTK) freight traffic; 2,400 employees.

November 2002: Havana - Holguin - London (Saturday, weekly charters) for Aviareps UK, and Cubanacan.

December 2002: To Santiago, over Buenos Aires.

February 2003: In July 2003, Havana - Holguin - Madrid (DC-10-30, weekly).

March 2003: 1 A330-223 (353, SE-RBF), Novair (NOO) wet-leased.

May 2003: A330-223 (362, SE-RBG), Novair (NOO) wet-leased.

August 2003: AllCanada Express (EXM) plans to wet-lease 727-200F's to Cubana (CUB).

September 2003: 2002 = 1.83 billion (RPK) traffic (+2.3%); 600,000 passengers (PAX) (-8%).

2002 TOP WORLD AIRLINES PASSENGER TRAFFIC (RPK) (Billions):
167 (GBA) 2.24; 168 (RYN) 2.23; 169 (GRD) 2.01; 170 (BRIT AIR) 1.93; 171 (FAT) 1.86; 172 (CUB) 1.84; 173 (SWL) 1.76; 174 (PINNACLE) 1.76; 175 (MEA) 1.75; 176 (NUI) 1.74; 177 (URAL) 1.73; 178 (CRM) 1.73.

October 2003: In February 2004, Gander to Varadero and Havana (A320, Taca International (TAC) wet-leased, charters).

November 2003: AllCanada Express (EXM) operates scheduled cargo service between Canada and Cuba for Cubana.

Il-18D-40 (2964017102, CU-T1539), Concors leased.

January 2004: 1 +1 order (February 2005) Il-96-100, Ilyushin Finance leased.

July 2004: 2003 = 2.04 billion (RPK) traffic (-20.2%); 57.1% LF load factor; 459,000 passengers (PAX) (-14.3%); 40.93 million (FTK) freight traffic (-26.4%).

August 2004: 737-400, Blue Panorama Airlines (BPA) wet-leased.

December 2004: 2,400 employees.

(vpcom@cubana.avianet.cu). SITA: HAVDDCU.

October 2005: Buys 2 Il-96-300's, 2 Tu-204's and 1 Tu-204F from Ilusdhin Finance.

November 2005: 737-382 (24449, EC-IOR), Hola Airlines (HLB) wet-leased. 1 Yak-42D (4520424116677, CU-T1249), delivery via Shannon (in all white color).

February 2006: Cubana (CUB) announced it is interested in buying 3 Tupolev 204-100 airplanes for operation on its medium haul network.

March 2006: Il-96-300 (CU-T1251), delivery.

April 2006: Cuba signed a deal on behalf of Cubana de Aviacion (CUB) for the purchase of two new Il-96-300s and three Tu-204s, according to press reports. The airplanes will be delivered this year and next, and cost $250 million, 15% of which will come from the Cuban government with the rest financed by Russian banks.

July 2006: 757-236 (24772, EC-JRT), Hola Airlines (HLB) wet-leased.

October 2006: Cubana de Aviacion (CUB) as flag carrier of Cuba, operates scheduled international flights to nearly 40 destinations in the Caribbean, Europe, and South America, in addition to domestic flights.

(IATA) Code: CU - 136. (ICAO) Code: CUB (Callsign - CUBANA).

Parent organization/shareholders: Cuba de Aviacion (100%).

Alliances: AeroCaribbean; Aeroflot Russian Airlines (ARO); Aeropostal (LAV); Air Europa (ARE); Air Jamaica (JAM); Blue Panorama Airlines (BPA); & (COPA) Airlines (COP).

Domestic, Scheduled Destinations: Camaguey; Cayo Coco; Cayo Largo Del Sur; Cienfuegos; Havana; Holguin; Santiago; & Varadero.

International, Scheduled Destinations: Bogota; Buenos Aires; Cancun; Caracas; Fort de France; Guatemala City; London; Madrid; Mexico City; Montreal; Nassau; Paris; Pointe-a-Pitre; San Jose; Santo Domingo; & Toronto.

March 2007: 1 Il-96-300 (74393202017, CU-T1254), delivery.

August 2007: Ilyushin Finance Co (IFC) reached several leasing and purchase agreements at the "(MAKS)" air show outside Moscow, according to press reports from Russia. "RIA Novosti" said (IFC) will deliver three An-148s and two Tu-204s to Aviaimport of Cuba (CUB) under the terms of a Memo of Understanding (MOU).

Under USA sanctions dating from shortly after Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution, Cuba's communist government has been barred from purchasing Boeing (TBC) airplanes. The same restriction applies to Airbus (EDS) airplanes, because more than >10% of their components is USA made.

2 Tu-204-200CEs (64035, CU-T1701; 1450743164036, CU-T1700), delivery, ex-(RA-64036).

December 2007: Cubana (CUB) expects to expand its fleet to 15, predominantly with Russian airplanes, as it boosts its traffic to 1.5 million passengers.

The Cuban flag carrier, which is 100% state owned, but run autonomously from the government, expects revenues of around $300 million the previous year.

In 2008, Cubana (CUB) will launch new routes to Chile, Rosario in Argentina, and Santa Cruz in Bolivia.

Tu-204-100E (1450743164042, CU-T1702), delivery.

February 2009: Tu-204-100E (1450743164037, CU-T1703), delivery.

April 2009: Yak-42D (4520422014576, CU-T1705), delivery, ex-(UR-42381).

September 2009: (IATA) Code: CU. (ICAO) Code: CUB

(Callsign - CUBANA).

Main Base: Jose Marti International Airport.

Domestic destinations: Baracoa; Bayamo; Camaguey; Cayo Coco; Cientuegos; Guantanamo Los Canos; Holguin; Las Tunas; Manzanillo; Moa; Nueva Geona; Santiago de Cuba; Santa Clara; & Varadero.

International Destinations: Bogota; Buenos Aires; Cancun; Caracas; Guatemala City; London; Madrid; Mexico City; Montreal; Paris; Quito; Santo Domingo; & Toronto.

October 2009: 90th year anniversary!

December 2009: An-24RV (67310701, CU-T1706), delivery, ex-(RDPL-34151).

January 2011: Officials in the USA President Obama administration said they are lifting some travel restrictions for Cuba, but the trade embargo against the communist government will remain. The changes allow for travel to Cuba by cultural, religious and academic groups. Also, charter flights from more USA airports will be allowed.

June 2011: "Reuters" reports that USA visitors to Cuba jumped to 63,000 in 2010 from less than <53,000 (2009) and just 42,000 (2008). This does not include 350,000 Cuban-American visitors, who are not counted as tourists by the Cuban government. Many who travel there without USA consent do so via third countries like Mexico or the Bahamas, flying airlines such as AeroMexico (AMX) and Bahamas Air (BAH). Others with consent can use nonstop charter flights from various USA cities including Miami. Cuba's top visitor sources are Canada, Italy, Spain, and the UK.

September 2011: Ilyushin Finance Company (IFC) has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to finance Cubana Airlines (CUB)'s purchase of three Antonov An-158s with an option for three more. A final contract is expected to be signed by the end of the year with deliveries starting in 2012. (CUB) has also ordered four slightly smaller An-148 regional jets for delivery in 2013.

July 2012: Cubana (CUB) uses two A320-200s from Avion Express (AVS) for its flights to Canada. (CUB) has wet-leased 767-3G5ER (28111, EI-CZH) from Blue Panorama Airlines (BPA) to replace its own Il-96s on its long-haul flights to Europe, where it currently serves Madrid Barajas (MAD) and Paris Orly (ORY) from Havana José Marti International (HAV) and Santiago de Cuba Antonio Maceo International (SCU) airports.

August 2012: Cubana (CUB) has resumed operations to Europe with its own airplanes by the end of July now again using its Il-96s instead of a 767-3G5ER wet-leased from Blue Panorama Airlines (BPA) on its routes to Havana and Santiago de Cuba Antonio Maceo International (SCU) airports from both Madrid Barajas (MAD) and Paris Orly (ORY) airports.

December 2012: Cubana ((IATA) Code: CU, based at Havana José Marti International (HAV)) (CUB) plans to wet-lease an A319-100 according to its schedule that would operate a twice daily service between Havana and Santiago de Cuba Antonio Maceo International (SCU) from January 2 onwards. Cubana (CUB) does not currently serve the route itself but instead code shares on Aerocaribbean (ACB) services on the route. Aerocaribbean (ACB) uses its own ATR 72-200s and a 737-400 (25349, EC-LTC) wet-leased from Spanish charter carrier, Calima Aviación (CMV) on the route right now.

March 2013: With less than <100 miles separating the two nations across the straits of Florida, the potential for USA – Cuban traffic is massive: there are around 2 million Cubans living in the USA (according to USA Census Bureau data 2010) and Cuba is the fifth largest immigrant sending nation to USA – after Mexico, China, India and the Philippines. However, the economic embargo imposed by the USA still excludes the provision of scheduled flights between the two nations, resulting in a no-show for the USA in Cuba’s top country markets.

The fastest growing country market in the top 12 is Colombia, which from its small base, has grown by +50% between the two sample months (April 2012 and April 2013) due to Avianca (AVI) introducing two extra weekly A318 rotations from Bogota to Havana. Derived from a more significant base traffic, the +44% spike in capacity in the #2 country market Canada, represents a marked increase for such a large existing market. While WestJet (WJI) and the Cuban national carrier, Cubana (CUB), have trimmed weekly capacity by one flight each, Air Transat (AIJ) (+32 weekly flights) and Sunwing Airlines (SWG) (+16) have both seriously ramped-up seats in April 2013.

Of the top 12 country markets, it is Spain that has contracted the most – this decline coming from the hands of struggling carrier Iberia (IBE). From 1 April 2013 it will suspend its seven weekly A340 operations between Spain and Havana plus Santo Domingo. Fellow incumbent Air Europa (ARE) has reacted, by offering an extra three weekly A330 rotations (up to 10 weekly) between the two nations, but it was not enough to cover the -25% slide in weekly capacity. Despite the cuts, Spain remains the biggest European market, although Germany is closing in, as it has grown by +11% year-on-year.

Cuban air travel is set for a boom in 2013, if the annual seat trends continue. In the 12 months ending in February 2013, one-way seats increased by around +20% against the previous 12 months, and that performance comes off the back of a not-so-sluggish +8% increase in the year preceding that.

Unsurprisingly, flights to Havana dominate the overall Cuban traffic profile, with the capital commanding just over >50% of annual seats. This governing share is boosted by the domestic market, which for Havana itself represents 16% of all flights in Cuba, as the capital is connected to 13 other points on the island, some with just a weekly flight, but some, like Holguin, with up to four daily flights on the near 700 km route. The #2 airport is the resort town of Varadero in the Matanzas province, which has doubled in terms of the number of annual seats between 2008 and 2013.

The importance of the inbound Canadian dollar to Cuba’s economy is clear, with Toronto-headquartered Sunwing Airlines (SWG) swiping the number one airline spot from Cubana (CUB), despite (SWG)’s +10% annual growth, and with four Canadian airlines inside the top 12. Operating 85 weekly services to seven Cuban destinations in April 2013, half of which are to Varadero, (SWG) offers flights from 14 Canadian cities and has increased its weekly seats by +23%.

In third place is Air Transat (AIJ)’s thanks to its surge in its Cuban flying program this year. With (COPA) (COP)’s services to Panama City growing by +37% annually, passenger traffic into Cuba would seem to be set for a buoyant 2013.

SEE ATTACHED - - "CUB-2013-03 TOP 12 AIRLINES TO CUBA."

Cubana ((IATA) Code: CU, based at Havana José Marti International airport (HAV)) (CUB) plans to initially use its first of three An-158s (it has on order as the launch customer of a stretched version of the An-148-100) on domestic services. According to its flight schedules, it plans to first operate the airplane between Havana José Marti International (HAV) and Santiago de Cuba Antonio Maceo International (SCU) airport on some of its two daily flights on the route currently mainly served with Avion Express ((IATA) Code: X9, based at Vilnius International airport (VNO)) (AVS) A320-200s. The first of Cubana (CUB)'s three An-158s has first departed on a test flight in Ukraine on March 20.

July 2013: Cubana (CUB) inaugurated operations on the 6,400 km route from Havana (HAV) to Sao Paulo Guarulhos (GRU) on July 10. The route, last operated in December 2004, is offered with weekly frequency using IL-96s and reflects Cuba’s new economic strategy to foster foreign investment on the island, especially the New Port of Mariel Development Project, supported by the Brazilian Government with $800 million.

An-158 (201-02, CU-T1711), delivery.

August 2013: Cubana de Aviación (CUB) has transferred 3 Antonov An-158 options into firm orders.

March 2014: Russia’s Voronezh Aircraft Plant will supply Cuba with Antonov An-148 regional jets (SEE ATTACHED PHOTO - - "CUB-AN-148-2014-03"), officials in the region where the factory is based said. “Today’s decision on An-148 supplies to Cuba opens a new market for us,” Alexei Gordeyev, the acting Governor of Voronezh Region said after a meeting with senior Cuban officials, including scientific advisor, Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart and the country’s ambassador to Russia, Emilio Lozada García.

Russian and Cuban authorities discussed other potential areas for increased bilateral cooperation during the meeting, including in healthcare and education.

The Voronezh Aircraft company is the region’s largest factory and one of the biggest manufacturers of passenger and cargo airplanes in the country. The factory specializes in the production of the Il-96 wide body long-haul passenger airliners and the An-148 regional jet.

In 2013, the company reported profit of +10 billion rubles/+$280 million, including earnings from Il-96 sales that reached 5 billion rubles/$140 million, and An-148 sales at around 3.2 billion rubles/$90 million.

Russia and Cuba have enjoyed close cooperation since the days of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Russia has moved to step up ties with Cuba. In December, Moscow wrote off most of Havana’s Soviet-era debt, estimated at about $30 billion, and denounced the USA trade embargo against Cuba.

November 2014: Cubana (CUB) on November 16th introduced twice-weekly (Thursdays and Sundays) flights from Havana (HAV) to San Jose (SJO) in Costa Rica. The 1,452 km route will be served by (CUB)’s 97-seat Antonov An-158s and faces no competition. This winter, Cubana (CUB) is planning to operate scheduled services to 19 destinations, including Madrid and Paris Orly in Europe. (CUB)’s only international flights operated at least daily, are to Caracas and Mexico City, while domestic routes to Holguin and Santiago de Cuba are operated twice-daily. (CUB)’s fleet comprises a mix of Russian-built Antonovs and Ilyushins, plus a few A320-series airplanes and an ATR 42-500.

December 2014: News Item A-1 The USA has announced it will initiate discussions with Cuba to re-establish diplomatic relations, aiming to open an embassy in Havana in the coming months. “Decades of USA isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a democratic Cuba,” USA President, Barack Obama said, adding the policy has isolated the USA from regional and international partners. “Though the policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, it has had little effect - - today, as in 1961, Cuba is governed by the Castros and the Communist party,” Obama said.

Numerous policy changes were put forth in Obama’s announcement; among them was a lifting of certain travel restrictions. According to the White House press release, general licenses will be made available for all authorized travelers in “12 existing categories,” including family visits; official USA and foreign government business; journalistic activity; professional research and meetings; educational activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, athletic competitions and exhibitions; humanitarian projects; and “support for the Cuban people,” among others.

The announcement stipulates “travelers in the 12 categories of travel to Cuba authorized by law will be able to make arrangements through any service provider that complies with the USA Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations governing travel services to Cuba, and general licenses will authorize provision of such services.”

A specific relaxation of travel restrictions to Cuba currently upheld by USA-based airlines was, so far, not addressed in the initial announcement. Currently, Air Canada (ACN) offers flights to Havana out of Toronto.

January 2015: A320-233 (1626, LY-VEN), ex-(CC-COM), Avion Express (AVS) leased to Cubana (CUB).

June 2015: AN-158 (205-06, CU-T1716) delivery.

July 2015: Aerocaribbean ((IATA) Code: 7L, based at Havana International) has merged with fellow state-owned enterprise, Cubana (CUB). While their corporate structures have now been integrated, the status of Aerocaribbean's Air Operators Certificate (AOC) is currently unknown.

Founded in 1982, Aerocaribbean operates three ATR 42-300s and four ATR 72-200s for Cubana (CUB) on flights to Baracoa, Bayamo, Camagüey, Cayo Coco, Holguin, Las Tunas, Moa, Nueva Gerona, and Santiago de Cuba in Cuba as well as to Managua in Nicaragua and Mérida in Mexico.

A320-232 (0709, LY-VEQ), ex-(B-2459), Avion Express wet-leased.

August 2015: Russia’s Roseximbank has signed an agreement with Ilyushin Finance Company (IFC), a Russian leasing company, to provide $70 million in export financing for Antonov An-158 aircraft for Cubana de Aviación (CUB).

The agreement, signed at the (MAKS) Air Show in Moscow, follows a series of similar deals involving Russian-built airliners for Cuban carriers. “Roseximbank has been cooperating with (IFC) on aircraft for Cuba for 10 years. Cuba’s carriers operate 14 Russian- and Ukrainian-built aircraft, including Ilyushin Il-96s, Tupolev Tu-204s and An-158s,” Roseximbank Chairman Dmitry Golovanov said at the show.

Roseximbank has provided (IFC) with a total of >$550 million in export financing.

At (MAKS) 2013, Cubana de Aviación (CUB) transferred 3 An-158 options into firm orders and took delivery of its 3rd An-158.

September 2015: A320-214 (1005, LY-VEW), ex-(N115MT), Avion Express wet-leased.

November 2015: "(IATA) to Install Ticket Financial System in Cuba" by (ATW) Karen Walker, November 25, 2015.

(IATA) plans to start operating a Billing & Settlement Plan (BSP) banking system in Cuba in 2016, helping to facilitate ticket transactions between airlines and travel agents.

The (BSP) system would be an important step in the gradual opening up of Cuba’s travel and tourism business, as relations between Cuba and the USA thaw. Ultimately, a bilateral air agreement is expected to be formed, enabling direct scheduled air links between the 2 countries.

Although no timing has been set for a bilateral, (IATA) (DG) Tony Tyler announced during a visit to Havana, the plan to operate a (BSP) system in Cuba next year. He also pledged (IATA)’s support and expertise as the country adapts its aviation infrastructure to cope with the anticipated large increase in air traffic and passengers.

Tyler’s visit also marked the 70th anniversary of (IATA), which was created in Havana at a meeting in the Hotel Nacional, where he hosted a celebratory dinner with the (CEO) of Cubana, the USA and Canadian ambassadors to Cuba and the head of Cuba’s civil aviation authority.

(IATA)’s (BSP) system is a critical enabler for airlines, facilitating financial transactions through travel agents via a standardized agreement and settlement mechanism.

Cuba has four accredited agents with >100 branches across the country, but no (BSP) system. “Direct scheduled air links are a much anticipated outcome of the thawing of relations between the USA and Cuba. That will certainly create opportunities for growth. Establishing an (IATA) (BSP) in Cuba will be an important facilitator for growth in outbound ticket sales,” Tyler said at a press conference in the Hotel Nacional.

“Cuba’s air transport industry has tremendous potential. Even in my brief visit, I have come to realize that aviation could be contributing much more to Cuba. Look at tourism. Cuba welcomed a record 3 million tourists in 2014. But the Dominican Republic attracted 5 million. They are both amazing countries, but even just looking at Cuba’s size compared to the Dominican Republic indicates that it should be able to accommodate a much larger tourism industry than it does today.”

Tyler said that (IATA) estimates there were about 300,000 departures from Cuba in 2014 (outbound travel) a relatively small number for a country with over >11 million people. “We did a projection to 2034 and conservatively see the potential for one in four Cubans to be traveling by air at that time. Even if the population were steady (an obviously unrealistic expectation) that would see a market of 10 times the size of today in less than two decades,” Tyler said.

Tyler also pledged that (IATA) will assist Cuba as it tackles the major airport terminal and airfield upgrades that will be needed to cope with the increase in air and passenger traffic.

“(IATA) is not in the business of building or upgrading airports. But we do help airports and governments plan infrastructure developments. By bringing deep knowledge of airline and passenger needs we can ensure that the infrastructure investments deliver maximum benefit,” Tyler noted.

“Cuba has the potential to leapfrog to become a model in the region for modern air transport infrastructure.”

December 2015: "Cuba & USA Reach Historic Air Agreement to Restart Scheduled Flights," by (ATW) Editor, Karen Walker, December 16, 2015.

Cuba and the USA have reached a bilateral arrangement to establish scheduled air services between the two countries, the USA State Department said. American Airlines (AAL), United Airlines (UAL) and JetBlue Airways (JBL) were among the 1st USA carriers to say they will seek approval to begin scheduled services as soon as possible.

The agreement, reached late December 16, means that charter operations can continue between the USA and Cuba and scheduled services can begin, although no timeline was given. The opening up of scheduled services is expected to be phased in slowly to allow Cuba to build the infrastructure that will be needed to accommodate the extra flights and passengers and to ensure Cubana’s future in the new aviation environment.

USA law will still prohibit tourist travel to Cuba by American citizens, but State said that “a stronger civil aviation relationship will facilitate growth in authorized travel between our 2 countries, a critical component of the President’s policy toward Cuba.”

(AAL) Chairman & (CEO) Doug Parker issued a statement welcoming the agreement. “Today’s announcement is great news for our customers as it brings us one step closer to connecting the USA and Cuba with scheduled air service,” he said. “We look forward to establishing scheduled service to Cuba in 2016, from Miami and other (AAL) hubs.”

(AAL) said it expects to submit a USA - Cuba service proposal to the Department of Transportation and hopes for timely approval of its proposal to enable (AAL) to introduce scheduled service as soon as possible in 2016.

(UAL) described the agreement as “historic” and said it looked forward to offering service between our global gateways and Cuba “as soon as we have approval to do so.”

“We hope the next dot on our Caribbean route map will be Havana, and possibly even other destinations in Cuba,” JetBlue (JBL) Senior VP Airline Planning, Scott Laurence said. “Cuba is the perfect addition to the (JBL) network.” (JBL) said it is “eager” to offer scheduled service to Cuba.

The bilateral is a major step forward in the resumption of normal relations between Cuba and the USA, a move that began a year ago with an announcement by USA President, Barack Obama of policy changes and the lifting of some travel restrictions to Cuba by USA citizens. Since then, the USA has reopened its embassy in Havana, but little else has changed.

Scheduled commercial airline services have been suspended for decades, since relations between the 2 countries broke down during the Cold War era. But that does not mean there have been no USA commercial flights to Cuba. Charter flights abound and are a particularly important connector, particularly from Florida, where many Cuban Americans reside. In December, (AAL) launched a regular charter from Los Angeles to Havana. USA citizen travel to Cuba is said by USA officials to be up by some +60% in 2015 over 2014, with more than >100,000 Americans visiting the country between January and September.

There is huge potential for growth in Cuba’s aviation and tourism markets, but also many constraints, primarily in ground and airport infrastructure, and in Cuba’s concerns to protect its only major airline, Cubana (CUB), which has just 26 aircraft, most of them Russian. (CUB), in its present form, would easily be outweighed by the USA carriers that are eager to start service to Cuba, including (AAL), (JBL) and (UAL).

The new bilateral is therefore expected to be phased in slowly. (CUB) is merging with regional carrier Aero Caribbean, which has a fleet of 4 ATR 72s and 3 ATR 42s and which operates domestic flights as well as services to some other Caribbean islands, including the Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, and Haiti. Cubana (CUB) is restricted to owning aircraft with no >10% USA-made content; essentially compelling it to use Russian-made Antonov AN-24s, Ilushin IL-96s and Tupolev TU-204s, although it does also lease four A320s from Avion Express, using those aircraft for Canadian routes.

Speaking informally during a recent dinner in Havana to mark the 70th anniversary of (IATA) (which was created in the Cuban capital) Cuba’s Head of Civil Aviation, Mayda Molina Martinez, said that any new air agreement with the USA would be phased in slowly and in such a way that would allow (CUB) to grow and adapt to the USA market.

Cuba’s air traffic management system is well positioned to handle the anticipated increases in commercial airliner movements under a more open aviation agreement. Cuban aviation authorities already liaise with the (FAA) on Air Traffic Control (ATC) issues and are recognized as being expert and efficient. In addition to the large number of USA charter flights that Cuba’s (ATC) system handles, the island nation manages well more than 70 over-flights a day.

The pain points will be on the ground, in airport terminal infrastructure and air side. Cuba has 10 international and 15 domestic airports. While the international airports are equipped with long runways, much development work will be necessary if Cuba’s airports, especially Havana, are to manage large increases in aircraft and passenger traffic. New technology will be necessary air side and on the terminal side, and there will be a need for far more automation. Self-serve check-in kiosks are non-existent and the checked baggage delivery system from plane to carousel can be hours-long.

“We have offered the government our assistance and to send people here to make a plan for what needs to be done,” (IATA) (DG) & (CEO) Tony Tyler said in Havana. “We want to avoid mistakes that others have made, when they build too much, too quickly. We can help them draw up a plan so that the right infrastructure is in the right place at the right time.”

(IATA) announced in November plans to start operating a Billing & Settlement Plan (BSP) banking system in Cuba in 2016, helping to facilitate ticket transactions between airlines and travel agents.
The (BSP) system would be an important step in the gradual opening up of Cuba’s travel and tourism business, as relations between Cuba and the USA thaw. (IATA)’s (BSP) system is a critical enabler for airlines, facilitating financial transactions through travel agents via a standardized agreement and settlement mechanism. Cuba has 4 accredited agents >100 branches across the country, but no (BSP) system.

March 2016: News Item A-1: "USA Carriers File Applications to Start Scheduled Flights to Cuba" by (ATW) Editor Karen Walker, March 2, 2016.

All 4 USA major carriers and at least 3 independents filed applications with the USA government March 2, seeking approval to provide non-stop services to Cuba.

The flood of filings, submitted March 2, come after the USA and Cuba announced an agreement in February to resume scheduled commercial air service. Services are expected to begin late summer or early fall this year, with an initial total of 20 daily round-trip flights being allocated to USA airlines between the USA and Havana and 10 daily round-trip flights to 9 other Cuban cities.

Those slots will be hard fought over as the consolidated “big 4”:— American Airlines (AAL), Delta Air Lines (DAL), United Airlines (UAL) and Southwest Airlines (SWA)) and independents Alaska Airlines (ASA), JetBlue Airways (JBL) and Silver Airways rushed to get their applications in. Ultra low-cost carrier (ULCC) Spirit Airlines (SPR), based in Florida, has also said it said it plans to apply.

(AAL) is requesting 10 daily frequencies to Havana from its Miami hub plus additional service to Havana from Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, and Chicago. (AAL)’s proposal also includes daily service between Miami and five other Cuban cities.

To Havana, (AAL) is proposing 10x-daily flights from Miami, one daily from Charlotte and (DFW), and one weekly from (LAX) and Chicago. (AAL) also wants to fly 2x-daily services out of Miami to Santa Clara, Holguin, and Varadero; and daily service to Camaguey and Cienfuegos.

Delta (DAL) wants to fly daily flights to Havana from Atlanta, New York (JFK), Miami, and Orlando, using Boeing 757-200s out of its Atlanta and (JFK) hubs and Boeing 737-800s on the Miami and Orlando routes.

United (UAL)'s proposal seeks 11 roundtrip flights per week to Havana that includes daily service from New York, +1 additional Saturday flight (8x-weekly flights), along with a Saturday-only flight from Houston George Bush Intercontinental, Washington Dulles and Chicago O'Hare (3x-weekly flights). (UAL) would use 737-800s.

Southwest (SWA) wants to serve Havana from 3 Florida airports: (Fort Lauderdale, Tampa Bay, and Orlando) as well as fly to Varadero and Santa Clara from Fort Lauderdale. (SWA) is an all-737 operator.

New York-based, JetBlue (JBL) would put Airbus A320s and A321s on 15 daily frequencies connecting four Cuba cities with 6 cities. These include 2x-daily, New York (JFK) - Havana; 4x-daily, Fort Lauderdale - Havana; 1x-daily, Fort Lauderdale - Camaguey; 1x-daily, Fort Lauderdale - Holguiìn; 1x-daily, Fort Lauderdale - Santa Clara; 2x-daily, Orlando - Havana; 2x-daily, Tampa - Havana; 1x-daily, Newark - Havana; and 1x-daily, Boston - Havana.

JetBlue (JBL) said it anticipates a start date of September 8, or within <100 days after receipt of all necessary approvals, whichever is earlier.

Alaska Airlines (ASA) (seemingly the only USA carrier with a concept of Cuba’s still limited and fragile infrastructure) has placed a relatively modest request to fly 2x-daily nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Havana operating 737-900ERs.

Silver Airways, a small regional carrier that operates Saab 340B turboprops, is seeking approval to serve 10 Cuban destinations from the 5 Florida cities of Key West, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, and Fort Myers/Naples.

Although the restoration of an air bilateral with Cuba is widely welcomed, general USA tourist travel to Cuba is still not allowed. Initially, at least, the new arrangement will be aimed at facilitating visits by travelers who fall under 1 of the 12 categories authorized by the USA Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

However, USA President, Barack Obama is scheduled to make an historic visit to Cuba March 21 - 22 (the first sitting USA President to visit the Caribbean island in 88 years) as part of efforts to normalize diplomatic relations.

(IATA) and others forecast that USA tourism to Cuba will see huge growth.

News Item A-2: "Cuba is a Rare, Hot-growth Opportunity for USA Airlines" by Karen Walker in (ATW) Editor's Blog, March 3, 2016.

Large and significant as it is, the USA domestic air transport market is essentially a mature market, growing at about +4 to +5% annually. Relative to regions like China, which is seeing domestic travel increase at about +10% year over year, or India, that is seeing an astonishing +20% clip, the USA market has limited growth opportunities.

That helps to explain the mass rush to grab available frequencies to Cuba for scheduled flights that will become available later this year under the new USA - Cuba air bilateral.

American Airlines (AAL), Delta Air Lines (DAL), Southwest Airlines (SWA), United Airlines (UAL), Alaska Airlines (ASA), JetBlue Airways (JBL), Silver Airways, Spirit Airlines (SPR), and Frontier Airlines (FRO) all want to get a slice of what is a rare new growth market right on America’s doorstep. Cuba isn’t a USA domestic destination, of course, but much of the Caribbean is regarded as “almost” domestic (especially from Florida and east coast cities (and Puerto Rico is a USA territory)) in terms of appeal and ease of access for American tourists.

What each of these airlines wants to establish is a foot in the door of this new market, then build on it as USA - Cuban diplomatic relations thaw and normalize. Here’s an opportunity to get in 1st on a near-USA market that is expected to see double-digit air traffic growth, akin to the emerging and much further afield markets like China and India.

India, of course, is a much tougher market for USA airlines to break into because the major Gulf carriers got ahead of that game. China, also, is a huge future market (but Chinese carriers are also growing fast, in numbers, quality, aircraft capacity and ability to compete).

Cuba has only Cubana (CUB), a small airline with very limited resources and which has been severely restricted by Havana in the types and origin of aircraft and components it can operate.

In the application filings submitted this week to the USA Department of Transportation, (AAL) made the biggest grab, seeking >half of the 20 daily round trips that are expected to be made available to Havana, as well as some of the 10 daily round trips dispersed among Cuba’s other 9 airports. (AAL)’s interest is natural, given its Miami hub, but it seems unlikely that the (DOT) will extend a large hand to the largest of the big 4 consolidated airlines. That probably explains why (AAL) has hedged its bets and also submitted applications for Cuban cities like Santa Clara, Holguin, and Varadero, which the other airlines are far less interested in. Havana is the prize.

What will be interesting to see is whether the (DOT) divvies this year’s flight allocations between a couple of the “big 4,” enabling them to offer meaningful frequencies and connections from the get-go, or whether it will disperse them more widely so that independents like JetBlue (JBL) (which operates charters to Cuba), Alaska (ASA), or even small turboprop regional, Silver can get a foothold and keep the market competitive. My guess is the latter.

The timing of this opportunity is also interesting. A few short years ago, Southwest Airlines (SWA) would not have been a player, but since its acquisition merger with AirTran (CQT), it has become an international airline with a significant Caribbean market it wants to grow. Will the (DOT) regard (SWA) as a low-cost competitor in its decision-making, or just another one of the big four that dominates 80% of the USA domestic market and warrants as much control as (AAL), (DAL), and (UAL)?

But remember, the real growth trajectory won’t occur until the USA lifts its prohibition on regular American tourists who can visit Cuba, just as they do in their millions to the Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Mexico and the rest of the Caribbean. That’s the historic landmark that these USA airlines want to get ahead of and why these initial flight allocations are so important. It’s a critical moment for a USA airline to get in on the ground as a new market opens; and that’s a rare opportunity.

News Item A-3: Global airline distribution network (APG) has opened an office in Cuba to represent airlines in anticipation of growing demand for air travel following the country’s launch of initiatives to develop international business, with tourism as one of the island’s top industries.

With a population of around 11 million, Cuba is the largest Caribbean island with 10 international airports served by Cubana (CUB) as well as a growing number of international airlines.

Six USA airlines have applied for traffic rights subject to the final relaxing of embargoes.

According to (APG), the top destinations sold in Cuba include Canada, Mexico, the UK, Spain, and Ecuador, as well as several other European countries.

Situated in the Miramar district, (APG) Cuba is fully registered as a general sales agent (GSA) in Cuba and is able to provide airline representation services including reservations, ticketing and promotional activities with the country’s travel agents.

The office in Cuba follows the opening of an office in Tehran last year.

September 2016: A320-211 (211, LY-VEV), ex-(MYGW), Avion Express wet-leased.

February 2017: 2 ATR 72-2121A (719, ZS-XZA; 731, ZS-XZB), ex-(F-OIQN, F-OIQO), Solenta Aviation wet-leased.

Fleet:
(definitions)

Click below for photos:
CUB-AN-148-2014-03
CUB-IL-62M
CUB-IL-96 - 2013-07
CUB-IL-96-300
CUB-TU-204-AUG07
CUB-YAK-42D
CUB-YAK42D-APR09

November 2017:

0 737-382 (CFM56-3B2) (1857-24449, /90 EC-IOR), (HLB) WET-LSD 2005-11. RTND. 148Y.

0 737-4K5 (CFM56-3) (2281-27074, EI-CUN), RTND (BPA) 2001-03.

0 737-4Q8 (CFM56-3), (BPA) WET-LSD 2000-12. (AGAIN) 2004-08. RTND.

0 757-236 (RB211-535E4) (271-24772, /90 EC-JRT "CITY OF GOLDEN TEMPLE"), (HLB) WET-LST 2006-07. 14F, 190Y.

0 767-300ER, (LAL) WET-LSD 2001-02. RTND.

0 767-3G5ER (PW4062) (612-28111, /96 EI-CZH), (BPA) WET-LSD 2012-07. EX-(LTU), (ILF) LSD 2002-01. RTND. 12C, 262Y.

0 DC-10-30 (46890, /73 DESTROYED W/O 1999-12), (MNR) LSD.

1 A319-100, 2012-12.

2 A320-200, (AVS) WET-LSD 2012-07.

1 A320-211 (211, LY-VEV), EX-(M-YRGW) AVION EXPRESS WET-LEASED 2016-10.

1 A320-214 (1005, LY-VEW), EX-(N115MT), AVION EXPRESS WET-LSD 2015-09.

0 A320-231 (V2500-A1) (257), (TSD) WET-LSD TIL 2000-06.

1 A320-232 (0709, LY-VEQ), AVION EXPRESS WET-LSD 2015-06.

1 A320-233 (V2527E-A5) (874, /98 N455TA), (TAC) WET-LSD 2004-12. 12C, 138Y.

0 A320-233 (V2527E-A5) (925, EI-TAA), (TAC) WET-LSD 2002-07. RTND.

1 A320-233 (V2527E-A5) (1334, EI-TAD), (TAC) WET-LSD 2006-02. 12C, 138Y.

0 A320-233 (V2527E-A5) (1353, N464TA), (TAC) WET-LSD 2001-03. RTND.

1 A320-233 (V2527E-A5) (1626, LY-VEN), EX-(CC-COM), AVION EXPRESS (AVS) LSD 2015-01.

0 A330-223 (PW4168) (353, SE-RBF, 2003-03; 362, SE-RBG, 2003-05), (NOO) WET-LSD. RTND.

0 F27-600 FRIENDSHIP (10343; 10347; 10352), ST (BRM) 2001-09, 3 BROKEN UP 1996-12.

11 AN-24RV (AI-24VT) (27308102, /72 CU-T1236, 2001-12; 37308909, /73 CU-T1237; 57310307, /75 CU-T1260; 47309610, /74 CU-T1263; 47309907, /74 CU-T1267; 27307508, /72 CU-T1295, 37309108, CU-T1299, 10/00). 1 DESTROYED W/O 1997-07. 27308105, CU-T1294; BF AUCTION AT KEY WEST 2003-06. 57310301, CU-T1244, EX-(MNG) 2004-06. 67310701, CU-T1706, 2009-12. 48Y.

3 AN-26.

1 +3 ORDERS AN-148 (201-05, CU-T1716, 2014-08; SEE ATTACHED PHOTO - - "CUB-AN-148-2014-03").

3 +3 ORDERS AN-158 (201-02, CU-T1711; 205-06, CU-T1716, 2015-05), ILYUSHIN FINANCE LEASING LSD 2013-07.

0 IL-18D-40 (2964017102, CU-T1539), CONCORS LSD 2003-11.

3 IL-62M (D-30KU) (3749648, /87 CU-T1280 "15 DE FEBRERO;" 2052436, /90 CU-T1282; 4053823, /90 CU-T1283; 4053732, /90 CU-T1284), 12C, 150Y.

0 IL-76MD (CU-C1419).

3 IL-96-300 (PS-90AN) (74393202015, CU-T1250, 2004-01; CU-T1251, 2006-02; 74393202017, CU-T1254, 2007-03), ILYUSHIN FINANCE LSD. WITH WINGLETS. 1 VIP. & 22F, 40C, 173Y.

0 TU-154M (720 CRASHED W/O 1998-08).

4 TU-204-100CE (PS-90) (1450743164035, CU-T1701, 2007-08; 1450743164036, CU-T1700, 2007-08 - - SEE PHOTO; 1450743164042, CU-T1702, 2007-12; 1450744164037, CU-T1703, 2009-02), BF ILYUSHIN FINANCE. CUBANA CARGO OPS. FREIGHTER.

0 YAK-42 (4520422606204, CU-T1274), (TAK) LSD 2000-11.

2 YAK-42 (4520424309017, CU-T1247; 4520424711397, CU-T1246), 2006-02.

5 YAK-42D (4520423914340, CU-T1273, EX-(TAK) 2001-05; 4520422014549, /90 CU-T1242; 4520423303016, /93 CU-T1243; 452044811442, CU-T1272, 2002-05; 4520423016269, /90 CU-T1278). 120Y.

1 YAK-42D (4520422014576, CU-T1705 - - SEE PHOTO - - "CUB-YAK-42D-2009-04"), 2009-04. EX-DONBASSAERO, EX-(UR-42381).

1 YAK-42D (4520424116677, CU-T1249), WHITE COLORS. 2005-11.

0 ATR 42-500 (PW127E) (617, /02 CU-T1240), AEROGAVOTIA WET-LSD 2002-03. VIP.

2 ATR 72-2121A (719, ZS-XZA; 731, ZS-XZB), EX-(F-OIQN, F-OIQO), SOLENTA AVIATION WET-LEASED 2017-02.

Management:
(definitions)

MARCO RELOBA, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER (CEO).

ARTURO BADA, PRESIDENT.

HERIBERTO PRIEGO, DIRECTOR GENERAL.

LUIS COPO, DEPUTY DIRECTOR.

E MATOS, DIRECTOR OPERATIONS.

MS LOURDES PAJON, COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR.

 
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