JetBlue and American are the biggest players in Fort Lauderdale and Miami airports, respectively, near where many Cuban Americans live.

´╗┐airlines expect gradual payout from Cuba flight deal

Cuba's three million visitors in 2014 accounted for 13% of travel to the region, Goodger said. tourism embargo could raise that to more than 20%.

American, which operated about 1,200 charter flights to Cuba in 2015, hopes its scheduled service will take off in the second quarter, pending regulatory approval, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Howard Kass said.

Even with the ban, Cuba is forecast to have the largest growth in worldwide visitors of any Caribbean state through 2024, according to David Goodger, a director at travel analysis firm Tourism Economics.

"Not going to Cuba is sort of like a grocery store that doesn't sell milk," Scott Laurence, JetBlue's senior vice president for airline planning, said in an interview. carriers jostle for position in what amounts to one of the industry's last frontiers, one challenge will be whether to fly smaller planes in a bid for higher ticket prices, or larger ones in a volume play.

That compares with some 15 flights by JetBlue Airways Corp alone to nearby Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. The carrier and larger rivals such as American Airlines Group Inc are betting that the modest beginning in Cuba will let them gain traction in a market with potential far beyond the typical Caribbean vacation destination. citizens, and executives paying for business class fares to evaluate commercial Discount Men Canada Goose Snow Mantra Parka Black New Zealand opportunities.

"That's a huge difference from the Bahamas," said Henry Harteveldt, founder of travel consultancy Atmosphere Research Group.

In addition, Laurence called a lack of commercial data a "big concern" as airlines have no sense of what travellers are willing to pay. carriers are not privy to the economics and customer profiles of charter flights they operate to Cuba.

airlines, set to resume scheduled service to Cuba for the first time in decades, will be allowed just 20 round trip flights a day to Havana.

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