By Joey Gerardi
Icelandair Applies for Cuban, Other Charter Flights
It is not unusual for an airline to operate charter flights during schedule downtime. Airlines in the U.S. have been found to operate many sports and athletic charters during off-peak seasons of the year. But Icelandair aircraft have been found in the most unusual places almost on a yearly basis, as the airline has been sending charters to the world’s most uninhabited continent, Antarctica.
The Icelandic airline has applied for an interesting set of flights, this time in a more tropical climate. The airline has requested to the Department of Transportation (DOT) for nearly 276 round-trip flights from the U.S. to Cuba, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. The company requesting the charter flights, called the “charterer,” is Anmart Superior Travel LLC, a Miami-based travel agency that offers charter packages around the Caribbean and South America.
These charter flights have yet to be approved by the DOT, but the applied for charter flights are as follows:
• Miami – Quito, Ecuador >> 34 round-trip flights
• Miami – Punta Cana, Dominican Republic >> 34 round-trip flights
• Miami – Guayaquil, Ecuador >> 34 round-trip flights
• Miami – Havana, Cuba >> 136 round-trip flights
• Houston Bush – Havana, Cuba >> 17 round-trip flights
• Orlando – Havana, Cuba >> 21 round-trip flights
If approved, all of the flights will take place between Feb.1, 2022, and May 31, 2022, with the exception of four of the 17 Orlando-Havana flights, which would take place between Jan. 11, 2022 and Feb.1, 2022. The aircraft type that would be operated on the routes wasn’t mentioned in the application but could be either of the airline’s aircraft types, the Boeing 757 or 737 MAX.
Charter flights to Cuba from the U.S. have become very popular, especially the Miami to Havana flights, of which Icelandair has applied to operate 136. Like anything, there will be — and has been — major opposition from the current operators on the route. Perhaps the largest charter airline flying between the U.S. and Cuba is Swift Air LLC, and they have sent in a letter to the DOT heavily objecting to the Icelandic carrier’s application, which they call a “Memorandum of Objection.”
Since the Swift Air objection letter was posted, two other charter airlines operating the Florida to Cuba sector have chimed in and joined Swift’s objection to the Icelandair application. The other two airlines are Caribbean Sun Airlines — a.k.a. World Atlantic Airlines — and recently started U.S.-based carrier Global Crossings Airlines a.k.a. GlobalX.
None of the objections mention any Icelandair’s applied for routes except flights to Cuba, with GlobalX specifically mentioning the Miami and Orlando flights. The Icelandic carrier submitted a reply to the objections from the three airlines, saying that “Swift’s objection is entirely misplaced and does not warrant denial of the instant applications” and that the Department of Transportation “should properly grant Icelandair’s requested allotment from the 2021-2022 Cuba pool.”
With the proposed Orlando to Cuba flights tentatively beginning in less than two weeks on Jan.11, 2022, the DOT should be posting a response to the airline’s objections, as well as the decision regarding Icelandair’s application very soon. None of the cities that Icelandair has applied for, except Orlando, currently offer scheduled flights onboard Icelandair, so this could be a great spotting opportunity for those in any of the mentioned cities, especially Miami, which could possibly see daily charter flights on Icelandair aircraft.