First flight to Cuba marks piece of history
American travellers taking Cuba holidays experienced a historic moment yesterday as the first Havana-bound airplane took off from Tampa International Airport for the first time in over 50 years, following an ease in travel restrictions.
Travellers onboard a flight to Cuba yesterday experienced a piece of history as the plane departed Tampa International Airport and made its way to Havana for the first time in over 50 years.
American travellers will now be able to take Cuba holidays following the eased restrictions announced by President Obama earlier this year. The U.S residents will be able to legally travel to the communist country for the first time in decades if they are visiting for cultural, educational, academic, religious or professional purposes.
Cuban-Americans are also free to visit to their homeland as often as they like following changes to the law last year and the new flights from Tampa International Airport provides a short 75-minute journey to the Caribbean island.
First-officer Robb Williams from Lakeland was the pilot of the inaugural flight of the Boeing 737 on Thursday 8th August, 2011. Prior to the flight, he said: "I feel honoured. I grew up here in the Tampa Bay area and I just feel honoured to be a part of (the flight)."
Until now, the United States government restricted the limited Cuba travel to three airports: Miami, New York and Los Angeles. The changes in the law have also allowed several additional airports in the U.S to provide charter flights to Cuba. These include Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta; O'Hare in Chicago; Baltimore in Maryland; Dallas/Fort Worth in Texas; New Orleans in Louisiana; Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The first charter flight was on a plane owned by Sky King Inc., a company that is partnered with Xael Charters Inc. who will be providing the flights for U.S travellers taking holidays in Cuba under the "people to people" scheme ot just visiting family.
Eddie Levy, co-owner of Xael said: "This is very good for the Tampa area," Levy said. "Americans from anywhere in the U.S. can choose to fly from Tampa. We are very honoured to have a part in this very historic event."
Xael Charter will operate one flight a week to Cuba with the hope of increasing the service during the busy holiday season. The new flights are expecting to bring an influx of visitors to the island’s attractions, historic sites, beaches, restaurants and Cuba hotels.
Talk to a specialist
Call 020 7644 1770 to speak with our award-winning travel consultants.
Opening hours 09:00 - 19:00 GMT
Popular Holidays In Cuba Browse all
Enjoy the long list of fun options for all the family or bask on Varadero's pure white sands
- Located on a gorgeous stretch of Varadero beach.
- Sample a host of activities including snorkelling, kayaking, windsurfing, golf and more.
- Enjoy 24-hour all-inclusive service.
Expect Luxury, comfort and relaxation!
- Enjoy spa treatments, water and land sports and more for a fun-filled break
- Relish fantastic eating and drinking options 24 hours a day
- Enjoy complimentary perks, including a bottle of sparkling wine, a romantic dinner for two, plus a 30 min massage per couple.
A couples' special - enjoy the perfect mix of history, local culture and laidback beach retreat for the perfect romantic Cuban experience.
- Enjoy all kind of the Spa treatments, water and land sports at Blau Varadero
- Fantastic views to the ocean from the modern and elegant rooms with balcony or terrace
- The perfect location of Blau Varadero beside the pristine sandy beach
Fall in love with Havana and its captivating heritage before being dazzled by the pristine shores of Varadero
- Stunning hotels in both Havana and Varadero that combine perfectly, offering the best of both worlds for adventure or relaxation
- Stay in a Sea View Room in Havana for all three nights, for an extra £20 per person
- Fly premium-economy class from an extra £199 per person, each way
- Little touches to make your holiday extra special, including a welcome cocktail and a bottle of cava upon arrival in Havana and Varadero
- Experience the world famous Varadero beach, where white sand is lapped by the clear waters when staying at Melia Varadero
Combine exploring the old dimes of Havana with a refreshing beach retreat in Vardero on an unforgettable twin centre...
Travel to one of Cuba's hidden touristic gems, Varadero, where stretches of secluded beach await you at Blau Varadero....
If you want to really feel Cuba's beating heart and pulsating rhythms, this is one of the best for an unforgettable...
Beautifully perched on the panoramic Mensura Hill, surrounded by striking greenery, this blessed and secluded natural...
Explore the many entertaining sites of the famous Varadero beach in Cuba, while enjoying a peaceful 10-day getaway at...
Club Kawama depicts a traditional hacienda type atmosphere, but in actual fact it's an All Inclusive resort. Beautifully...