TRAVEL GAZETTE – The first regular direct commercial flight from the United States arrived in the central Cuban city of Santa Clara on Wednesday morning, marking an important new step in thawing ties between the former Cold War foes.
The JetBlue flight touched down at 10:57 a.m. local time at the Abel Santamaria International airport, carrying 150 passengers, including numerous airline executives and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.
JetBlue will now fly three times a week to Santa Clara until Oct. 29 before scheduling a daily flight.
Other carriers like American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines and Sun Country Airlines will begin flights in the coming months to cities such as Holguin, Camaguey, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara and Varadero.
Both countries signed an agreement in February this year that allowed up to 110 daily flights between several cities in the U.S. and 10 Cuban international airports, including the capital city of Havana.
A total of 20 daily round-trip flights to Cuba’s capital Havana are allowed but are still awaiting final approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
An average of 18 charter flights from the U.S. already arrive at Cuban airports daily, but that number should substantially decrease with the start of regular flights.