Maine airport licensed to refuel foreign planes flying to Cuba

In a move that indicates a further relaxation of U.S. travel restrictions on Cuba, Maine’s Bangor International Airport has been licensed to service foreign aircraft on non-traffic transit stops en route to or from Cuba.

The decision, handed down by the Office of Foreign Assets Control on Monday, makes Bangor the first U.S. airport to receive such authorization.

“The baseline of this is that whatever the Obama administration can do that will further introduce and create a landscape for commercial activity with Cuba, it is going to do that,” said John Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, which supports increasing commercial ties between the two nations. “If more airports apply to do what Bangor is going to do, [the administration] will be looking for a reason to say yes.”

Under the licensing, passengers can’t disembark in Bangor on their way to or from Cuba. But carriers that aren’t from the U.S. or Cuba can stop at the airport for services, including fueling and de-icing.

Until now, carriers from Europe in need of such services had to stop in Canada.

OFAC’s decision comes on the heels of the U.S.-Cuba aviation agreement completed early this year. That deal has set the stage for the renewal of regularly scheduled commercial flights between the two countries this fall.

Robert Silk, Travel Weekly

July 19, 2016

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