JetBlue Airways (B6, New York JFK) has filed a motion with the US Department of Transportation (DOT) seeking to initiate the reallocation of traffic rights for two of the seven weekly Havana Int'l flights currently held by Delta Air Lines (DL, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson).

jetBlue argued in its filing that Delta triggered the dormancy clause by not using some of its traffic rights for flights to Havana for more than ninety consecutive days.

In August 2016, Delta obtained traffic rights for 7x weekly flights between New York JFK and Havana, but since September 4, 2017, it has suppressed service on Mondays and Wednesdays in effect transforming the route into a 5x weekly flight. According to jetBlue's argument, Delta should automatically return those frequencies to the DOT for reallocation in the event they are unused for a period of ninety days.

"No U.S. carrier is more eager to begin additional service to Cuba than JetBlue. However, because of Delta’s express violation of the dormancy rule, the Department must now address the legal reality that it has two additional day-of-the-week frequencies to allocate," the New York-based LCC claimed in the filing.

Contrary to many other regulated markets, traffic rights in the US-Cuba market are allocated on a daily, rather than weekly, basis. This means that in the event the DOT initiates a reallocation procedure, it will only concern rights for Delta's dormant Monday and Wednesday flights.

According to the ch-aviation capacity module, jetBlue currently operates 48x weekly between the US and Cuba, including services from Fort Lauderdale Int'l to Havana (13x weekly), Camagüey, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba (7x weekly each), from New York JFK to Havana (7x weekly) and from Orlando Int'l to Havana (7x weekly).

jetBlue Airways' eagerness to expand its presence in Cuba goes against the industry trend. Other airlines, including Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines and Silver Airways have withdrawn from the market, while Sun Country Airlines has not commenced operations despite obtaining the necessary traffic rights.

Delta Air Lines flies 18x weekly between the countries, serving Havana from Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson and Miami Int'l 7x weekly each, on top of 5x weekly services from New York JFK.

The biggest carrier in the US-Cuba market by weekly seating capacity is American Airlines with a 38.5% market share.