The flights covered by the waiver are those going to and from Punta Cana, on the eastern tip of the Island, where several American tourists have died during the last year.
Delta (DAL) said it was granting the waiver for travel through August 15, and if passengers are going to rebook they must begin travel no later than November 20. But if passengers cancel the flight altogether, they will get a credit that they can use on Delta for a period of one year from the original booking date.
The airline said it is granting the waiver “due to recent events” in Punta Cana. Delta said it is working with passengers travelling to the two other Dominican airports — those serving Santo Domingo and Santiago de los Caballeros — on a case-by-case basis. Other airlines, such as American (AAL), JetBlue (JBLU) and Sun Country, also said they would work with passengers wanting to change or cancel Dominican flights on a case-by-case basis.
Flight cancellations to and from the Dominican Republic are soaring, according to travel analytics firm ForwardKeys. New bookings to the island are off sharply since the beginning of June.
Between June 1 and June 19, cancellations increased 51% compared to the same period a year ago. The pace of cancellations has picked up even more than that in recent days with cancellations more than double year ago levels on June 18 and 19.
New bookings for July and August to the Dominican Republic from the United States have fallen by 74.3 per cent compared to the same period in 2018. Bookings were up 2.8 per cent in April and May, before the news coverage of the deaths began.
At least some of the deaths are believed to have been from natural causes, and so far a connection between the deaths has not been established.
The loss of tourism is a huge problem for the Dominican economy. Around 17 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product is tied to tourism.
Dominican Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garciacalls on Friday called the spate of deaths “exaggerated.”