Cuba to beef up air security after ICAO audit

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Cuba will guarantee air security for travelers flying to and from the Caribbean nation, to be prepared for its high tourist season which lasts from November to April.

Armando Lopez, president of Cuba’s Institute of Civil Aeronautics, said the island’s air security is guaranteed and endorsed by international entities, the official agency Prensa Latina reported.

Lopez recalled that Cuba was a founding member of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) when it was created in the U.S. city of Chicago in the 1940s, and has always met its requirements.

The ICAO carried out an audit in Cuba in August 2015, coinciding with the country’s resumption of formal ties with the United States and the planned resumption of bilateral direct flights.

The island’s compliance with air safety protocols was acknowledged by the organization.

“These data ratify the security for the flights to and from the island, including those established with the United States,” said Lopez.

He made the remarks a week after the U.S. Republican Senator Marco Rubio reintroduced a bill demanding the strengthening of security at Cuban airports, where commercial U.S. flights have been landing since Nov. 28, 2016.

Rubio, born to Cuban parents, is a well-known hard-liner toward the island’s Communist government, calling it “a top national security threat” to the United States.

Rubio demanded the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) establish an agreement with the Cuban government to allow its inspectors to conduct complete assessments of the 10 international airports on the island and brief the Congress about it.

Lopez stressed the close ties of cooperation between his institution and the TSA, which have been reinforced since 2003.

Since then, TSA experts have visited the island 40 times, including seven occasions since the resumption of direct flights between the two neighboring nations, and their last visit was in October, said the Cuban senior official.

Lopez added that since 2000, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has visited the country for similar purposes.

Cuba’s 10 international airports operate with more than 80 airlines, cooperating with nine American companies.

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