US air marshals allowed on board commercial flights to Cuba

Posted: 19-Aug-16 09:56

Cuban authorities recently announced they would allow US air marshals to board regular direct flights to and from the island. This decision now gives green light to the re-establishment of commercial flights between Cuba and the US, whose governments finally agreed on this particular security issue.

US air marshals allowed on board commercial flights to Cuba

Ensuring the safety of American citizens had been one of the major points setting back the launching of commercial flights between US and Cuba. This matter will no longer prove problematic, as the Cuban government recently allowed agents from the US Marshal Service to board new direct flights between the two countries, a service that should begin in less than a month.

The Miami Herald informed that the US Transport Security Agency (TSA) has published a statement addressing the issue of federal air marshals on flights to and from Cuba:

“In the spirit of enhancing the security of international civil aviation, the United States and the Republic of Cuba entered into an aviation security agreement that sets forth the legal framework for the deployment of U.S. in-flight security officers — more commonly known as federal air marshals — on board certain flights to and from Cuba.”

The statement goes on to confirm that, for security reasons, the TSA would not disclose which flights air marshals would board. The TSA added that these law enforcement agents serve as “an active last line of defense against terrorism and air piracy, and are an important part of a multilayer strategy adopted by the U.S. to thwart terrorism in the civil aviation sector”.

During testimony before a House Committee on Homeland Security, Larry Mizell, TSA Representative, declared that this American institution had worked intently alongside the Cuban government in order to share their knowledge and experience on air security and make sure any safety concerns discovered at Cuban airports are remedied. Last month, four members of Congress had expressed their wish to stop Obama administration efforts to resume regularly scheduled flights to Cuba until the TSA certified that Cuban airports had appropriate security measures. One of their concerns was the one which was just resolved, the presence of air marshals on commercial flights to Cuba.

For the time being, 31st August should be the historic date when commercial flights to the islands recommence, with a JetBlue route from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport to Santa Clara. Other airlines, including American Airlines are planning to begin their inaugural service to destinations outside the Cuban capital soon.


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