Alaska Airlines cites Trump policy change in ending service to Cuba from L.A.

Alaska Airlines cited new travel restrictions imposed by the Trump administration as the main reason the carrier plans to end service from Los Angeles to Cuba.

Alaska began its daily Los Angeles-to-Havana flights Jan. 5 and plans to fly the last plane to the island nation Jan. 22, 2018, the airline said this week.

In 2014, President Obama began opening ties with Cuba and relaxing restrictions to travel between the U.S. and the communist country. The biggest change was allowing Americans to visit Cuba on their own, instead of on expensive group tours, as long as they declared that the trip is to learn about Cuban people and culture.

This summer, President Trump said he intended to reverse several of those new policies toward Cuba, including the policy that let Americans travel with fewer restrictions to the island. Those new regulations went into effect Nov. 9.

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines subsequently said it would end its service from LAX to Havana because the new restrictions on travel will hurt demand. The airline said that about 80% of its passengers who have flown to Havana have done so under the relaxed travel policy.

“Given the changes in Cuba travel policies, the airline will redeploy these resources to other markets the airline serves where demand continues to be strong,” Andrew Harrison, chief commercial officer for the airline, said in a statement.

Alaska Airlines made clear that, despite the cut in service to Cuba, demand for air travel remains strong for the carrier. The airline said it plans to add nearly 8% in capacity in the next year.

hugo.martin@latimes.com

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