When devastating hurricanes pummeled Texas, Florida and several Caribbean islands this summer, vacationers didn’t stay home and mope.
Instead, airline data show that many travelers rebooked their vacations in Mexico.
From October 2017 through March 2018, U.S. and international airlines have cut more than 1.2 million seats to hard-hit vacation spots such as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Cuba and the French-Dutch island St. Martin/St. Maarten, according to airline data analyzed by the aviation consultant ICF.
In that same period, U.S. and international carriers added more than 600,000 seats on flights to popular Mexican destinations such as Puerto Vallarta, San Jose del Cabo, Mexico City and Cancun.
Airlines added another 200,000 seats on flights to Caribbean islands that suffered less hurricane damage, including Aruba, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica.
“Customers want to travel someplace warm with a beach,” said Mark Drusch, ICF vice president and a former airline executive. “And airlines want to book them to places that have hotel rooms available.”
Drusch said the airline data analyzed by ICF didn’t show a significant increase in seats to other winter and spring destinations, such as Las Vegas, Phoenix and Denver.
Puerto Rico, which suffered the worst toll from Hurricane Maria in September, took the biggest hit of all destinations in the Caribbean, with more than 454,000 airline seats cut from flights to the island in the winter and spring period, compared to the same six-month period in 2016-2017. That amounts to a 20% drop in airline seats.
Source: LA Times