Flights from Key West to Cuba resume after 51 years
October 31, 2013 15:48
Miami, Oct 31 (EFE).- Direct passenger flights between Key West and Cuba, suspended in 1962, will resume on Nov. 15, one of the charter companies flying the route confirmed to Efe.
"We feel very emotional about being able to provide this service to the Cuban community with flights from Key West after 50 years and prevent travelers from having to travel to the Miami airport," Isaac Valdes, sales director for Mambi Travel, told Efe.
The service will provide three flights a week to Cuba, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and a round-trip ticket will cost $449 to $469, Valdes said.
The twin-engine aircraft will have the capacity for groups of up to 19 people and will take about 30 minutes to fly the route to the Havana international airport.
"We have all the permits in order and hope that the (Florida Keys) community flies with us and is satisfied, avoiding the inconvenience it would pose to go to Miami," said Valdes, who added that he was happy about the possibility of "uniting the Cuban family a little more."
In 2009, the director of the Key West international airport asked the U.S. Treasury Department, which enforces Washington's economic embargo against the Communist island, to permit the reestablishment of direct flights to Cuba, which is just 144 kilometers (about 90 miles) away.
Two charter companies, Mambi Travel and Air MarBrisa, which already fly to Havana from Miami, Tampa and New York, will provide the service.
Regular Key West-Havana flights were inaugurated in 1920.
This year, the United States celebrates the centennial of the first flight between Key West and Havana.
On May 17, 1913, Cuban Domingo Rosillo del Toro piloted his monoplane from Key West to Havana, thus winning a $10,000 prize for being the first to cross the Florida Strait by air.
There are more than 2 million Cubans and their relatives in the United States, most of them living in Florida. At present, only Cuban-Americans with relatives on the island and Americans who meet certain requirements, such as traveling for academic and/or religious reasons, may travel to Cuba.