Friday, October 23, 2020

More Airports Want Flights to Cuba

Following President Obama’s ease on travel restrictions to Cuba by U.S. citizens or residents with family in Cuba, the travel industry is urging the government to broaden the list of ports of entry to and from Cuba.  Currently, the three international airports with flights to Cuba are Miami, Los Angeles, and New York.

Under existing Treasury Department rules, travel to Cuba by Americans is restricted to family members of Cuban citizens, government officials, academics and others who qualify for special licenses to travel there.  Last year about 50,000 individuals received licenses and traveled to Cuba on charter flights.

In a recent letter, Peter Horton, the director of Key West International Airport in Florida, urged the Treasury Department to add the airport as an additional port of entry.  Tampa’s airport also made a request.  Local business leaders in Houston have asked their airport officials for flights to Cuba as well.

A spokeswoman from the Treasury Department says she cannot comment on specific requests for changes to current travel policy, but the department reviews requests upon receiving them.

According to the U.S. International Trade Commission, an estimated 1 million Americans would visit Cuba a year if all travel bans were lifted.  Tom Cooper, Chairman of Gulfstream Air Charter Inc, has seen a 25% increase in passengers on the flights it operates between Miami and Cuba since April 2009.

Last week, Orbitz Worldwide Inc., the online travel agency, e-mailed customers asking them to sign a petition urging the U.S. government to lift the travel ban on Cuba for all Americans.  The e-mail message cites bills, introduced earlier this year in Congress, that proposed a lifting of the travel ban entirely.

Despite the possibility of thawing U.S.-Cuba relations, both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have said that any further changes in travel policy or the longstanding economic embargo on the communist island depend on whether the Cuban government takes steps towards democracy.

Wall Street Journal

Comments

  1. As a Cuban-American, I am glad to see changes in U.S.- Cuba policy. However, I think the Obama administration should remain careful about any next steps. Cuba is not ready to become the next Caribbean tourist trap, especially when human rights are still being violated on the island everyday.