JetBlue expands its US - Cuba routes in light of expected opening for commercial flights

Posted: 29-Sep-15 10:55

U.S. carrier JetBlue has recently revealed their expansion plans in their newest destination, Cuba, after expectations that the travel restrictions still in place are further lifted to allow for regular commercial flights between the Caribbean island nation and the U.S. Yesterday the company revealed they will add a second charter flight connecting New York's John F. Kennedy Airport with Havana.

JetBlue expands its US - Cuba routes in light of expected opening for commercial flights

JetBlue Airways has revealed it will be extending their services to Cuba with the addition of a second charter flight connecting New York and the island’s capital city of Havana.

The decision comes after speculation is ripe that scheduled commercial flights to the island could soon be allowed and is also a necessary step forward as the airline has received more demand than ever for the emerging destination as more and more U.S. travellers become interested in visiting and experiencing Cuba after decades of isolation and severely limited cultural exchanges.

Explaining the airline’s latest move, Chief Executive at JetBlue, Robin Hayes revealed during an interview:

"In my email inbox, I have more interest from customers for service to Cuba than for any other place..."

The announcement was made on the sidelines of an airline summit recently held in Washington where the possibility of regular commercial flights between the two countries is being explored in more depth. Carriers are readying for a complete opening to come to fruitful realisation very soon as both countries negotiate a new civil aviation arrangement that would allow for it.

U.S. and Cuban officials are currently in talks and they further discussed the topic last Monday and Tuesday in Havana as some adjustments are required before passengers can directly book with airlines instead of through charter companies, as has been the case up until now.

For now, the new non-stop return charter route by JetBlue will start operating every Tuesday from 1st December 2015. This additional service will be run in partnership with Cuba Travel Services, a Miami-based travel provider to Cuba licensed by the U.S. government to arrange flights to Cuba.

Whilst general tourism to Cuba is still prohibited under the U.S trade embargo law of 1962, after Obama's rule relaxations U.S. citizens are now allowed to visit Cuba on specially designated trips, as long as they fall within any of the 12 categories stipulated by government.

It’s expected that either the tourism ban or the embargo (ideally both) are fully lifted soon and the market for travel to Cuba is expected to further grow as a consequence. The legislation that calls for an end to both is still pending in U.S. Congress and although many radical old school Republicans are still against a favourable vote, more pressure has been mounting, gathering more supporters and gaining momentum. Watch this space.


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