Latin America – Luv TIA Flights to Havana
We were going to take this week off, given that it was a holiday week, but we decided that something deserved special note.
As readers will know, Tampa has trailed only South Florida as a charter flight market to Cuba (admittedly by a lot, but still). This year, the US and Cuba agreed to have regular commercial service between them. Together that should be promising, except that airlines like to push their passenger through their hubs, which threatened Tampa’s service. Previously, the Department of Transportation awarded (tentatively) flights to other Cuban cities than Havana, to which no airline applied to fly from Tampa (which was disappointing). Even for the Havana flights, the airlines’ proposals favored their hubs. We know that made the airport folks a bit nervous.
Well, Thursday, the Department of Transportation released its (tentative) Havana flight list. (The document is here) For ease, here is the list:
First, Tampa gets one flight a day to Havana on Southwest, which makes sense for the airline choice. While we are not a hub, Southwest is the largest airline at TIA (yea, we know the airport want us to call it TPA, but whatever), and its flights can draw on the most connecting traffic. Second, you may note that every other airport on the list is a hub, though Miami is not really a Frontier hub. Aside from that, we are the only non-hub on the list.
And that is great, for two reasons: 1) because we get the flights (we have the demand and you can’t be a gateway to Latin America if you do not even connect nonstop to the place with which you have the longest, biggest connection) and 2) because maybe we can convince Southwest (or other airlines) to have more flight to Latin America/Caribbean (and elsewhere) through Tampa using it as a minor hub or focus city. And here is another reason they should consider that: because our airport is awesome, as shown once again by coming in third on Travel & Leisure’s list of best domestic airports.
An efficient design that makes the travel process seamless from check-in until boarding is one of the qualities shared by all of our World’s Best airports. Tampa International Airport (TPA), which has been one of the top three domestic airports since 2013, was applauded by readers for its maneuverability. “TPA is easy in, easy out,” said one pleased respondent. “I will pay more for flights here because it is simply easy to navigate.”
Tampa International is consistently (and we mean over decades) one of the best airports in the country/world. There is no reason Southwest (or another airline) should not share the luv (and, yes, that is international).
So, once again, well done airport (and those, like the Mayor of St. Pete, who are working hard to build our connection with Cuba and work to build Cuba trade rather than let it go to all the other cities of Florida – and thanks to those who have quietly worked so hard for decades to expand local air service). If only the rest of the area could work so well (and the Port could stop being so complacent on Cuba while other Florida cities/ports move to develop the business.)
Now, if we could just get that San Francisco flight.