| NEW YORK, June 15
NEW YORK, June 15 U.S. President Donald Trump's
plan to roll back his predecessor's opening toward Cuba will
spare airlines and cruise operators betting on a new revenue
source but the rollback could affect them by weakening demand.
Trump is expected to outline moves meant to reverse the
trade-and-travel rapprochement by the Obama administration that
will enrich Cuba's "oppressive regime," senior White House
The new policy will ban most U.S. business transactions with
the Armed Forces Business Enterprises Group, a sprawling
conglomerate involved in all sectors of the economy, including
the hotel and hospitality industry, but make some exceptions,
including air and sea travel, the officials said.
This should shield U.S. airlines and cruise lines now
serving the island.
Cruise operator Carnival Corp downplayed any impact
from the policy change, saying it was "pleased" its ships could
continue to sail to Cuba.
American Airlines Group Inc, Delta Air Lines Inc
, United Continental Holdings Inc and Southwest
Airlines Co all declined to comment until Trump makes a
formal announcement on Friday afternoon in Miami.
JetBlue Airways Corp will review the policy once it
becomes formal, but planned to "operate within the policies set
by the government."
Obama's initial opening prompted a dash to launch flights
into Cuba in mid-2016. Some early entrants, including smaller
carriers Frontier Airlines, Silver Airways and Spirit Airlines
Inc, have pulled out.
Larger U.S. carriers have pared back flights to smaller
Cuban cities to focus on the capital, Havana. American, Delta,
United, Southwest and JetBlue want to increase the number of
flights to Havana. The requests are pending the administration's
U.S. cruise operators and airlines could lose around $712
million in annual revenues if the Trump administration fully
reinstates restrictions on travel, Washington lobby group Engage
Cuba said in a recent report.
While Trump's new policy avoids the worst-case scenario of
cancelling all commercial flights or severing diplomatic
relations, it will still be a blow to a travel sector betting on
Cuba as a new high-growth market.
"It's a huge island," David Scowsill, chief executive
officer of the World Travel & Tourism Council, told reporters
before the White House detailed the new policy. "There's lots of
potential for U.S. businesses to do business, and of course it's
a great leisure destination in the Caribbean for people to go on
Marriott International Inc on Friday urged the White
House to improve relations with post-Castro Cuba and recognize
tourism as a strategic tool in the effort.
Marriott, the world's biggest hotel chain, operates the
Gaviota 5th Avenue Hotel, which is owned by the Cuban military,
under its Four Points Sheraton brand. The Trump administration
has criticized the Cuban military as repressive and vowed to
crack down on financial ties between U.S. businesses and Cuban
James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, said on Thursday
it would be "insane" to revert to policies that could cripple
the ability of U.S. businesses to operate on the island, calling
it a "betrayal" of Trump's "America First" agenda.
"This is bad policy, bad politics and bad for U.S.
business," Williams said.
(Additional reporting by David Shepardson in Washington;
Editing by Christian Plumb and Jeffrey Benkoe)