American Airlines is celebrating 25 years of charter flights to Cuba. The carrier’s first flight to Cuba departed from Miami to Havana on April 5, 1991.
The DFW-based carrier boasted on this quarter-century old experience when the last month submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Transportation, wherein it proposed, the operation of 18 daily flights from Miami to Havana, Santa Clara, Holguín, Varadero, Camagüey and Cienfuegos. American also proposed to serve Havana from Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago and Los Angeles. Philadelphia was not included in the proposed routes.
Leo Rodriguez, a Miami-based Tower Planner who has coordinated American’s Cuba charter flights for the past 25 years, reflected on his experience. “Back then, going to Cuba was like going to the moon. It was not like it is today. But I always thought our work was important and we were laying the foundation for a regular operation. It has been really exciting because we were pioneers.”
Last February the United States and Cuba signed a new civil aviation agreement, which allows for up to 110 additional scheduled flights. Of these, only 20 can go to Havana, the rest should be allocated to other Cuban cities.
American Airlines (AA) applied for more than half of the possible slots to Havana plus routes to five other cities. The airline has a large hub in Miami, and has made it clear that it will play a major role in the future flights between both countries. According to Rodriguez “It’s going to be the culmination of 25 years of work. We have worked really hard and all those efforts are about to pay off. I am proud to have been part of something that is about to give birth to something bigger.”
Staff, Airways News
April 5, 2016