The mass market is dawning for Cuba, which has long ranked as one of the most alluring and exotic of destinations.
The Cuban flag is flying again over the country’s Embassy in Washington DC. American Airlines, which operates charter flights between the US and Cuba, has said it is “ready” to begin scheduled service, and United Airlines has followed suit.
Pent-up demand for travel by Americans to Cuba, after a trade embargo lasting for decades, is considered to be massive. Cuba is on America’s doorstep, in airline terms. Europeans (and Australians and Canadians) have had Cuban tourism largely to themselves for years – but that is about to change.
Here’s a statement from American’s chairman and chief executive, Doug Parker, published in the Dallas Morning News:
“The reopening of the United States and Cuban embassies in Havana and Washington is an important step toward building new commercial relationships and re-establishing scheduled air service between the US and Cuba. American Airlines has operated charter flights to Cuba for nearly 25 years and we stand ready to begin scheduled service when it’s allowed.”
United Airlines issued a similar statement: “United Airlines congratulates the US and Cuban governments on the historic reopening of their embassies today in both countries’ capitals, which have been closed for more than a half century. We look forward to continuing our constructive dialogue with both governments about providing our customers service between our two nations, subject to government approval.”
While scheduled flights to Cuba are not yet permitted from the US, American, its American Eagle partner Envoy Air, Swift Air and Sun Country Airlines run charters between Miami and Havana. JetBlue Airways flew charters from New York and Tampa to Havana at the weekend.
Written by Peter Needham