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Key West International Airport Authorised to Offer Flights to Cuba

  • 17-Oct-11 17:13
  • Cuba
  • Reuters

American travellers will have more flight options for Cuba holidays as Key West International Airport in Florida receives permission from federal authorities to offer flights to the Caribbean island; however these are limited to only 10 passengers or less

Key West International Airport Authorised to Offer Flights to Cuba

The U.S federal authorities have given permission to Key West International Airport allowing it to offer a new Cuba route for American travellers.

Key West International Airport is the latest airport in the United States to be given permission to provide flights to Cuba holidays for American residents but because it is a small airport, the planes will be restricted to carrying only 10 passengers or less to Cuban airports.

Florida's southernmost airport is located just 90 miles across the Florida Straits from the Caribbean communist island and the charter flights to Cuba will take just 30 minutes for American travellers.

Until recently only three airports in the United States - Miami, Los Angeles and New York’s JFK - were permitted to operate Cuba flights but in January this year, President Obama relaxed restrictions on the ongoing U.S-Cuba travel embargo, and several airports have received permission to operate charter flights to the island nation. These include airports in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Tampa and San Juan in Puerto Rico.

American residents are now permitted to take Cuba holidays for religious, academic, cultural, educational, and professional purposes and Cuban-Americans can now visit their homeland without any restrictions.

Havana Cathedral, Cuba
Image by: analista55, on Flickr

The Director of Airports for Monroe County where Key West International Airport is located, Peter Horton, said that the authorisation email he received from U.S. Customs and Border Protection did have some restrictions for Cuba flights.

"It does not open up flights for the average American and it limits arriving passengers to 10 per flight. But it's the first step and it's an important one," Horton explained.

He added: "Cuban-Americans with relatives in Cuba could fly from here, when we have an airline arranged, as could anyone with a federal license to visit Cuba, but not tourists visiting the Keys, or locals."

Key West International Airport has already begun a $2.25 million upgrade project that is expected to be completed in two years and will see the expansion of facilities for Customs and Border Protection in order to receive more passengers.

According to Cuban statistics, the number of U.S citizens who visited Cuba in 2010 increased by 20 per cent and 350,000 Cuban-Americans visited family and friends following the relaxed travel restrictions.

The Caribbean island is expecting to receive nearly three million tourists in 2011 as travellers from all over the globe visit Cuba hotels, tourist attractions, beach resorts and historical sites.

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