Tampa could be starting first scheduled flights to Cuba this autumn

Posted: 19-Apr-16 16:06

Tampa International Airport in Tampa Bay in the United States could be one of the first airports to operate scheduled flights to Cuba, with services starting as early as this autumn. Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways have submitted applications to the U.S. Department of Transportation to operate daily flights between Tampa and Havana in Cuba.

Tampa could be starting first scheduled flights to Cuba this autumn

Scheduled commercial flights between the United States and Cuba could start from Tampa International Airport this autumn. Tampa airport staff are confident that the Cuba flights will be granted to the airport over competitors such as Miami, Orlando and Los Angeles, due to Cuba's historic relationship with Tampa Bay.

"There is an overwhelming interest in flights to Havana right now," explained Chis Minner, the Vice President of Marketing with the Tampa airport.

Airport officials submitted a 97-page package highlighting market analysis and the region’s history, along with its application for 28 requested flights to Cuba.

Last month, Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways submitted applications to the U.S. Department of Transportation to operate twice-daily commercial flights between Tampa International and Cuba. Staff at Tampa International Airport collected more than 5,700 signatures on a petition supporting flights to Cuba.

Tampa’s Cuban population is the third-largest in the United States, and one fifth of the region’s Hispanic population originate from Cuba, says to Mr Miner. The airport currently operates nine weekly charter flights to multiple destinations in Cuba, such as Havana, Santa Clara and Holguin.

Americans are still prohibited from travelling to Cuba for tourism holidays, and they can only visit the island through licenced tours with operators under 12 categories.

While charter flights have been operating between the two countries for some time now, just 20 daily commercial scheduled flights will be approved to Havana from the U.S. Regulators will allow as many as 90 more flights to other Cuban cities and approval is expected to be granted this summer, with services commencing in the autumn.

In 1961, the United States cut off diplomatic relations with Cuba following Fidel Castro’s revolution. The years that followed saw an economic embargo imposed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba have recently been resumed following five decades of hostilities, and embassies have reopened in Havana and Washington.

Last month, President Barrack Obama became the first U.S president to visit Cuba in more than 90 years.


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