The federal government has grounded the latest bid from JetBlue Airways to provide a direct flight between Boston and Cuba.
Last month, JetBlue sought to take advantage of a request by Alaska Airlines to delay the start of its Los Angeles-to-Havana service until early January. JetBlue, which already plans to fly into Havana from New York and Florida, lobbied the government to reject Alaska’s plea and instead replace the route with a JetBlue trip between Boston and the island nation.
JetBlue also said that even if the government chose to allow the delay, it should designate the proposed Boston route as the backup in the event the Alaska service does not get started.
In a decision issued Friday, the government opted to allow Alaska’s delay, and said JetBlue’s request was not “sufficiently compelling.” The Department of Transportation called Alaska Airlines’s 37-day pause “relatively short” and said the Los Angeles route will represent the only direct connection to Cuba from the western part of the United States.
JetBlue spokesman Philip Stewart said the company was disappointed with the decision, “but will continue to look for opportunities to serve Havana from Boston.”
The Cuban and US governments agreed to resume commercial air travel between the long-hostile nations earlier this year. (Travel for strictly tourism purposes is still not allowed.)
The United States approved of 20 daily routes to Havana from different cities during the summer, and a trip out of Boston was not among them. Routes to airports outside Havana have already begun.