MIAMI — Sun Country Airlines filed a motion with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for a one-year extension to start service to Cuba. The airline would like to commence flights when the 2017-2018 winter IATA season begins on December 23, 2017.
Sun Country was one of six U.S. airlines that were the first to be granted approval to start flying to cities in Cuba besides Havana on June 10. The carrier was given approval to launch once-weekly service between Minneapolis and Mantanzas, Cuba which is located on the north coast.
The airline also received approval to launch once-weekly service between Minneapolis and Santa Clara which is the capital of the Villa Clara Province in central Cuba.
Sun Country has until March 17, 2017 to commence the new service as this date is 90 days after the proposed start-up date it provided to the DOT. However, the airline is requesting for more time.
In the motion filed on December 23, Sun Country requests additional time to “examine and mitigate barriers still in place due to the current trade embargo between the US and Cuba [and to] examine market opportunities consistent with Sun Country’s historical use of warm-weather destinations on once-weekly service; and to navigate operational challenges to smaller Cuban markets.”
The airline elaborated further in the motion; it explained that it is still working on establishing the processes for crew members and customers to receive the necessary travel credentials, and the airline is still working on setting up the contacts for fuel, above and below-wing personnel, and ground operations. Also, the airline is still a bit uncertain of what market opportunities are present, but it wants additional time to do this.
Now, the wait begins for Sun Country.