It’s official: Sun Country Airlines will not be flying to Cuba.
The Eagan-based airline notified the U.S. Department of Transportation last week that it would not be using the nonstop flight slots granted by the agency due to market uncertainties and political barriers.
“Sun Country Airlines is no longer considering operating scheduled service from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Cuba due to continued market and regulatory uncertainties,” the company said in an e-mailed statement.
In 2016, Sun Country won the right to fly from the Twin Cities to two Cuban cities, neither being Havana. The small Minnesota airline asked for an extension for beginning service several months later, citing market barriers.
President Barack Obama loosened many of the decades-old travel restrictions to the island nation before leaving office. This triggered a gold rush-like race among U.S. airlines to shuttle curious Americans to and from the long-forbidden island. But many of those routes were quickly canceled due to an oversupply of flights between the two nations, and the lack of tourism infrastructure in Cuba.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday released a list of restrictions that make it more difficult for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba. The restrictions went into effect Thursday.
Sun Country specializes in leisure travel and vacation packages.
The two cities it had won the right to fly to, Matanzas and Santa Clara, lack the type of all-inclusive resort experiences many warm-weather vacationers from the U.S. are seeking.
Delta Air Lines, the largest airline at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, flies to Havana from New York-JFK, Atlanta and Miami.
The airline said Thursday “it is currently reviewing the new regulations placed into effect today by the Trump Administration regarding travel to Cuba.”
Kristen Leigh Painter • 612-673-4767