Nearshore Americas

Key West, Florida Just Got a Little Bit Closer to Cuba

As part of the very slow, very incremental thaw between the U.S. and Cuba, there will be three weekly direct flights to Havana from Key West Airport from November 15 onwards, each departing for Cuba on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons.

Mambí, a travel agency based in Miami, has reportedly organized the charter flights, offering to carry ten passengers on each airplane. But the 30-minute journey might cost a passenger $449. (Restrictions apply to those traveling to Cuba based on a variety of government-related requirements.)

The other airports where you can find a significant number of flights heading to Cuba include Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa. Some 140,000 Cuban-Americans are residing in Tampa and St. Petersburg, and they were the first to cheer when the United States lifted the travel embargo on Cuba in late 2011.

More than 85,000 people have traveled between Tampa and Cuba since September 2011. However, there has been a dramatic increase in travel during the last year as an estimated 470,000 Cuban exiles or Cuban Americans visited the island last year.

There has been a growing demand for air tickets to Cuba with a larger number of Cuban Americans planning to visit their families in the Communist country and several private organizations holding cultural and educational excursions.

Meanwhile, Gulfstream Air Charters is gearing up to offer direct flights from Tampa to the city of Santa Clara, the capital of Villa Clara, the most populous province in Central Cuba with more than 802,000 inhabitants. The city can serve as a link for travelers to Cienfuegos, Sancti Spiritus and Ciego de Avila. The majority of the flights into Cuba are to Cienfuegos, Havana, Camaguey, Holguin, and Santiago de Cuba.

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The ABC Charters is also expected to introduce direct flights to Santa Clara from December 4.  There are now more than 50 charter flights ferrying people between Miami and Cuba every week. The number is likely to grow in the upcoming holiday season.

Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

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