Airline restores flight from Tampa to Cuba
Tampa International Airport on Thursday announced three new flights, including restoration in June of ABC Charters' scheduled service to Holguin, Cuba, which was discontinued in February.
Frontier Airlines will begin Sunday and Thursday flights between Tampa International and Wilmington, Del., on July 4, the first service from Tampa serving Delaware's key business hub. Frontier will use 168-seat Airbus A320 aircraft.
And JetBlue Airways will launch daily, nonstop flights to Hartford, Conn., Oct. 24 with 150-seat Airbus A320s. Southwest Airlines serves the Tampa-Hartford route, so competition could benefit travelers with lower airfares.
The new flights reflect continued, improved performance at Tampa International, which has reported nine consecutive months of increased ridership year-over-year.
“Things are going well,” airport CEO Joe Lopano said. “Airports are the first to see signs of a recession and the first to see a turnaround.”
The airport reported a 5.2 percent gain in March compared with a year ago to 1.8 million passengers, helped in part by Easter falling in March compared with April a year ago. Ridership is up 2.3 percent between October and March.
A key measure was a 4.1 percent increase in seats on flights serving Tampa from a year ago, a telling figure as airlines in recent years trimmed flights to keep them full.
Fourteen of 16 airlines at Tampa International reported load factors – the percentage of seats filled – greater than 80 percent, with eight of those exceeding 90 percent load factor, said Damian Brooke, the airport's vice president of business planning and information technology.
ABC Charters, which flies weekly between Tampa and Havana, will fly on Tuesdays between Tampa and the eastern Cuban city of Holguin from June 11 through August and in December and January.
Tampa-based Island Travel & Tours flies two weekly roundtrips between Tampa and Havana.
Video: Food Network star Alton Brown tries Tampa's cuban sandwiches, says they weren't 'what I expected'