Trump Suspends Commercial Flights to Nine Destinations in Cuba to Limit Cash Flow to Cuban Government

The White House announced it will suspend flights scheduled for nine locations in Cuba as another way to staunch the flow of money that typically starts with American travelers and ends up in the coffers of the Cuban government.

A senior official in the Trump administration said that airlines will now only have authorization to fly into Havana, the Miami Herald reported Friday afternoon. Other destinations previously authorized included Santiago de Cuba, Camagüey, Vadero and other locales on the island.

The three airlines affected by the new policy include American, Delta and JetBlue, and those airlines will have 45 days to finish operations in the nine now-restricted destinations.

"We have seen how the Cuban government has benefited from American travelers. We will not allow these funds to be siphoned to the government coffers," the Trump official told The Herald.

Scheduled commercial flights from the United States to Cuba only began in 2016 when the Barack Obama administration relaxed regulations. The embargo also prohibited any products from Cuba—including Cuba's famous cigars—from being brought into the United States.

Before 2016, only charter flights back and forth between the countries were allowed, which created a monopoly with higher rates and less efficiency. Having U.S. airlines in the mix brought lower rates and better service. Charter flights between Cuba and Miami will still be allowed despite the new policy set forth by the White House.

Cuba Airport
General view of Jose Marti International airport in Havana, on April 30, 2019. - Havana airport and the Cuban aviation company will be claimed in the United States by Cuban-American Jose Ramon Lopez. His family owned the majority stakes on both until the Cuban government seized them after the 1959 revolution. Getty/ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP

The new suspensions of flights to other destinations throughout Cuba is a way for Trump to limit cash flow into the Cuban government because of its ongoing support of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, The Herald reported. The United States does not recognize Maduro as Venezuela's president, and the White House accuses Cuba of preventing a peaceful transfer of power in Venezuela.

The White House has also made efforts to create fuel shortages in Cuba by sanctioning companies that facilitate shipments of Venezuelan oil to Cuba. This is from a longstanding agreement that began between Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro.

Also this week, the U.S. Department of Commerce put even more restrictions on the Cuban government by revoking authority of U.S. companies to lease airplanes to Cuban government airlines. The canceled contracts have already caused Cuban's leading airline, Cubana de Aviación, to scrap flights to seven international destinations.

The Trump administration this June banned cruise ships traveling to Cuba, and private planes and yachts were prohibited to making trips to Cuba as well.