Friday, August 26, 2016

JetBlue to launch first US commercial flights to Cuba next week

JetBlue to launch first US commercial flights to Cuba next week
AFP Relax News • August 26, 2016

The US airline JetBlue will make the first regular commercial flight
between the United States and Cuba in more than half a century next
Wednesday, the Cuban authorities said Thursday.

The August 31 inaugural flight -- the first of its kind since 1961 -- is
scheduled to take off from Fort Lauderdale, Florida and arrive in the
central Cuban city Santa Clara.

"The revival of regular direct flights is a positive step and a
contribution to the process of improving relations between the two
countries," Cuban Deputy Transportation Minister Eduardo Rodriguez told
local media.

Wednesday's scheduled journey will kick off a new flight schedule that
includes 110 daily trips, with 90 already authorized by both governments
to nine Cuban airports, many of them in or near tourism hotspots.

Twenty daily routes to Havana are pending, with airlines requesting the
US authorities to triple that number, Rodriguez said.

With regular commercial flights set to resume, communist Cuba's aging
airports are under scrutiny after decades of isolation from the United
States during which only charter flights were permitted.

Rodriguez called US skepticism of Cuba's airport safety "unfounded in
fact," in line with a statement from the island nation's head of civil
aviation security, Armando Garbalosa.

"I can responsibly assure you that the level of security at our airport
installations complies with world standards, including the standards of
the United States. There is nothing to fear," Garbalosa said last month.

According to the US Department of Transportation, the airlines
designated to fly to the nine Cuban airports -- not including Havana --
are American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Silver
Airways, Southwest Airlines and Sun Country Airlines.

Their flights will depart from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago,
Minneapolis and Philadelphia, slated to land in the Cuban cities
Camaguey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguin, Manzanillo,
Matanzas, Santa Clara and Santiago de Cuba.

Washington and Havana agreed in February to restore direct commercial
flights, one of the watershed changes initiated in December 2014, when
US President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro
announced a thaw after more than 50 years of Cold War hostility.

Source: JetBlue to launch first US commercial flights to Cuba next week

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