One would think that San Juan would be more successful with foreign carriers, San Juan is a major business center, Puerto Rico has lots of resort hotels and many mega cruise ships are based in SanJuan (especially during the summer). However, Puerto Rico is far more popular with Americans than with Europeans:
1. First, the cultural and historical thing - many French head to Martinique/Guadeloupe. the Dutch to Aruba/Curacao, etc.
2. For Europeans heading to the caribbean, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cuba and Cancun are more popular choices. Why? Because there are rather inexpensive package holidays to all of those islands with charter flights and because the cost of accommodation is less expensive than in Puerto Rico. The prices to the Dominican Republic and Cuba are very sharp - an äll-inclusive holiday at a deluxe hotel on one of these islands can be booked for surprisingly cheap prices. Puerto Rico is simply too expensive to compete.
3. Most of the cruise ships based in San Juan are marketed almost exclusively to US passengers; ships marketed to German pax are based in the Dom Rep, many ships marketed to Brits are based in Barbados, etc. Of course, there are exceptions - I think that Virgin in running a few flights from LGW
to San Juan in connection with a cruise program, there are charters from Latin American countries in connections with cruises, etc., but generally speaking, cruising out of SJU
is an American thing.
4. Europeans heading to the US for a sun vacation think Florida - as an American living in Europe and being involved in the travel industry, I have learned that many here dont really associate Puerto Rico with the US and are quite unaware that the island even exists. As said above, here in Europe the Caribbean means the Dom Republic, Cuba, etc. and not Puerto Rico.
5. And, as pointed out above, there are excellent connections between Puerto Rico and major US cities. At one point, about a million years ago, AA
had planned to further develop the SJU
hub with flights to major Latin AM
capitals and Europe - none of this happened since AA
picked up the MIA
operation from Eastern Airlines and SJU
remained simply a caribbean hub.
Will European airlines return to SJU
- maybe Virigin will try something and I do think that, at some point, one or more of the European charter carriers will return to launch a new programme and destination. As far as the scheduled carriers, I am sorry to say probably not, its easier to offer service to SJU
via codeshares with their US partner airline.