Cubana says it is struggling to maintain air services

Cuba’s national airline, Cubana de Aviación SA, has said that because of the extraterritorial effect of US sanctions, it is experiencing increasing difficulties in purchasing, leasing and servicing aircraft. The airline noted that, consequently, it expected to continue to have difficulties serving destinations.

Granma quoted the company as saying that it “finds it totally impossible” to access aircraft produced by companies such as Airbus, Dassault and Boeing, regardless of the nationality of the equipment’s owner or the country in which such equipment is registered or operates. The publication went on to note that the airline was also experiencing difficulties in buying or leasing aircraft as practically all aviation technology has US content. For that reason, Cubana said, it had also not been able to “carry out the maintenance of aircraft with the specialised agencies of virtually any country”

Granma quoted Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as saying that obstacles imposed by Washington on banking transactions were additionally having the effect of being ‘extremely limiting’ to the airline’s performance, making its transactions ‘not viable from the commercial and financial point of view’. ‘The impact of these measures on the safety of flights, the stability of the airline, and its chances of survival is evident,’ the Foreign Ministry added.

Indicating the likelihood of continuing changes and possible reductions in its domestic services after October 30, Cubana said that up to that date passengers experiencing ‘capacity adjustments or cancellation of flights’ will be reimbursed without penalty. At present Cubana continues to provide services to all of its international destinations.

The report suggested that Cuba will raise the implications for air safety of the US embargo at the United Nations. In April this year Captain Hermes Hernández Dumas, the Director General of the airline said that it was trying to maintain its national and international routes and frequencies, but that it was limited by the servicing schedules of its fleet of aircraft. At the time Cubana said that it was suffering from servicing delays as it had insufficient spares to meet operational and safety requirements and was unable to meet demand from passengers wishing to travel.

In May an internal Cubana flight crashed shortly after take-off killing 112 people. There was one survivor, a Cuban, who remains in intensive care in Cuba. The aircraft was being operated on a wet lease by Aerolíneas Damojh SA de CV (Global Air) a charter company based in Mexico City (Cuba Briefing May 21, 2018).

Last year the trade publication CH-Aviation said that Cubana was in discussion with the Voronezh Aircraft Production Association (VASO), one of the largest aircraft production plants in Russia, to service of the airline’s fleet of four Ilyushin 96-300s.

Aviation industry publications indicate that the airline’s current fleet consists of 17 aircraft: six Antonov An-158, four Ilyushin Il-96-300; four Tupolev TU204; two ATR 72-500 and one ATR 42-500, but some aircraft are believed to be unserviceable.

 

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