Skift Take

The fact that the DOT approved Alaska's request is not a surprise. The government almost always says yes to short-term route extensions. What is rare is JetBlue trying to block it. That was a feisty move from a competitor.

Alaska Air Group Inc. received permission for a five-week delay in starting service on a prized flight between Havana and Los Angeles, as regulators rejected an attempt by JetBlue Airways Corp. to secure the route and move it to Boston.

The U.S. Transportation Department agreed Alaska could wait until Jan. 5 to begin the service instead of the original date of Nov. 29, according to an Oct. 22 regulatory filing. The Seattle-based carrier had asked for more time to market the new flight and said customers needed more time to plan Cuba trips for allowed purposes.

JetBlue’s arguments weren’t compelling enough to outweigh the benefits of Alaska’s route to the Cuban capital from Los Angeles, the U.S. metropolitan area with the fourth-largest population of Cuban Americans, regulators said in the filing. JetBlue had argued that the 37-day delay showed a lack of preparation as U.S. carriers hustle to open regular flights to Havana for the first time in half a century.

Regulators have awarded several airlines two-day extensions from the start date set when it approved a limited number of Havana routes Aug. 31. JetBlue is seeking a one-day delay for one flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and a two-day delay for the other. Southwest Airlines Co. has requested permission to postpone the start of Havana flights from Fort Lauderdale and Tampa, Florida, to Dec. 12.

©2016 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Mary Schlangenstein from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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Tags: alaska airlines, cuba, havana, jetblue airways

Photo credit: Alaska Airlines will be able to start flying between Los Angeles and Havana on Jan. 5, five weeks later than expected. Alaska Airlines

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