…from Houston and Newark to Havana
Negotiations for the resumption of operations in Havana coincide with the lifting of the restrictions imposed by the Department of Transportation.
HAVANA TIMES – United Airlines resumed its direct flights to Havana from Houston, Texas, and Newark, New Jersey, on Monday, after two and a half years of suspension due to the covid pandemic. The Cuban Airports and Airport Services Company (ECASA) reported that the airline will operate a daily flight with both cities.
The first flight arrived on Monday morning at José Martí International Airport from Houston, after several months of negotiations and infrastructure adjustments. United, based in Chicago, planned to restart operations on October 31, 2022, but requested an extension from the United States Department of Transportation because it needed more time to review expired contracts with service providers and equip the terminal where it would be accommodated.
The airline operated 14 weekly flights to Havana in March 2020, seven from Houston and the same number from Newark, when it suspended its operations due to the closure of borders and restrictions on the entry of travelers due to the spread of the coronavirus.
Negotiations for the resumption of operations to Havana coincide with the lifting of the restrictions imposed by the Department of Transportation during the government of former President Donald Trump, which prohibited the commercial flights of American companies to small airports outside the capital.
The first to operate a flight to an airport outside Havana was American Airlines, which on November 3 began operations at Abel Santamaría International Airport, in Santa Clara, to revive tourism in the provinces. The airline also plans to connect Miami with the destinations of Varadero, Camagüey and Santiago de Cuba.
Cuba is at the beginning of its high season for tourism, and through the streets of the historic center of Havana, the increase in travelers is already visible, this newspaper can confirm.
The Cuban authorities expect that with the increase in flights, , the second largest currency generator after the export of health services, will recover, compared to the meager tourism results recorded in 2022. Official data confirm that the sector will close this year well below the levels of 2019, when more than 4.2 million travelers arrived on the Island.
The Government celebrates with pomp the growth of tourism by more than 552% in 2022 compared to 2021, when there were still travel restrictions. This year has seen the arrival of 1,553,461 travelers from January to September, including travelers from the Cuban community abroad. However, the results are far from the set goal of receiving 2.5 million tourists before the end of the year.
Thus, the Ministry of Tourism had no choice, in October, but to recognize that the goal will not be met and reduced the projection to 1.7 million international travelers.
Translated by Regina Anavy for Translating Cuba