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 10:30 - 18:30 GMT
Popular Holidays In Cuba Browse all
Ideal for trendy couples - stay at a chic and sleek hotel in the heart of vibrant Havana and then move on the shores of Cuba's most famous beach
- Get the honeymoon package with late check out, turn down service, special room upgrade and other services
- Full range of spa treatments for a more relaxing break at Blau Varadero, or a selection of water and land sports to choose from for the more active traveller
- Be swept away by the amazing panoramic views of Havana from the NH Capri's rooftop swimming pool
Combine colourful and vibrant Havana, staying in the residence of the 'stars', with a relaxing beach holiday in Cuba's world famous resort, Varadero
- Discover history and culture in Havana
- 15 restaurants and bars in Varadero
- Enjoy cabartes and live music
Fall in love with Havana and its heritage before basking on the pristine shores of Varadero
- Experience the world famous Varadero beach, where white sand is lapped by the azure waters when staying at Melia Varadero
- Stunning hotels in both Havana and Varadero that combine perfectly, offering the best of both worlds for adventure or relaxation
- Little touches to make your holiday extra special, including a welcome cocktail and a bottle of cava upon arrival in Havana and Varadero
The unlimited heaven of tranquillity in a perfect setting
- The luxurious 5 star accommodation ensures a comfortable adventure.
- Iberostar Parque Central Hotel is a great base to discover Havana's historic Old Town.
- Activities throughout the day at Iberostar Varadero Hotel , including aerobics, archery, basketball, beach volleyball, football, kayaking and more.
Start your Cuban experience at the NH Capri Hotel, one of Havana’s most historically popular mafia-run hotels of the...
Your Cuban experience begins at the memories miramar havana, a 4-star hotel located right at the heart of the classy...
The Iberostar Parque Central Hotel is the perfect place to feel Cuba's beating heart and pulsating rhythms, and will...
Beautifully perched on the panoramic Mensura Hill, surrounded by striking greenery, this blessed and secluded natural...
Get away to one of Cuba's best kept secrets for a dream holiday at Club Amigo Atlantico. Guardalavaca is known to host...
This enchanting villa hotel is surrounded by exuberant tropical plants and is perfectly located in a high point towering...