New Air, Sea Services to Link the U.S. and Cuba
As the relationship between the U.S. Cuba continues to thaw, several transportation companies are advancing their plans to link the two countries by air and sea.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo joined recently with representatives from JetBlue Airways and its charter partner, Cuba Travel Services, to announce a new flight from New York to Havana, Cuba. The new service makes JetBlue the first major carrier to announce a new flight to Cuba from New York since travel restrictions were recently eased by the U.S. government.
Flights will depart New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to Havana’s José Martí International Airport every Friday afternoon, starting July 3, according to Cuba Travel Services.
“We are very excited to partner with yet another prestigious carrier such as JetBlue,” says Michael Zuccato, general manager at Cuba Travel Services.
The new NYC-Cuba flight, he says, “will provide additional options for travelers in the Tri-State area as well as those connecting passengers that prefer a New York gateway to Cuba. This new partnership will provide our clients with the high quality of service that they’ve grown accustomed to with Cuba Travel Services at a more competitive price.”
The expanded charter service comes on the heels of Governor Cuomo’s trade mission to Cuba, where the Governor, joined by JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes and other New York business leaders, led a dialogue to connect New York businesses to new opportunities in Cuba.
In addition to the new New York-Havana service, JetBlue said it will also operate five weekly round trips to Cuba, including flights from Tampa and Fort Lauderdale with other charter partners. Both the New York and Florida charter flights will be operated with 150-seat Airbus A320 passenger aircraft.
COMBINED, THE U.S.-CUBA FERRY SERVICES WOULD BE THE FIRST IN 50 YEARS
The news of the new JetBlue U.S.-Cuba air service was announced the same day as licenses were issued by the U.S. Treasury Department to three U.S.-flag passenger ferry companies planning to operate on the 222-mile route linking Cuba and Florida.
The three companies are Baja Ferries USA LLC and Havana Ferry Partners LLC, both Florida based, and San Juan, Puerto Rico-headquartered America Cruise Ferries Inc.
Baja Ferries currently offers a service between Florida and Mexico. According to its website, the Coconut Grove, Florida-headquartered company will offer a combination passenger/ocean-freight service between Port Everglades and the Cuban capital.
The company said it will operate “wave-piercing vessels” with “ample cargo space,” and a capacity of 300 passengers and offer amenities that include food, beverage, entertainment, and possibly gaming.”
Baja Ferries has said it plans to offer three or four weekly sailings depending on demand for the route between Miami and Havana. A statement from America Cruise ferries said the company hopes to begin operations with vessels sailing three times per week on the same route by the end of the year.
The ferry services would be the first connecting the two countries in more than 50 years and still require approval from the Cuban government before they can begin operations.
UPDATE: More international flights planned from U.S. to Cuba
On September 30, the first-ever non-stop service from Baltimore/Washington, D.C. Thurgood Marshall International Airport to Havana Cuba will begin with twice-weekly flights on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The service will be offered by Island Travel & Tours, Ltd. and flown by Swift Air on Boeing 737-300 aircraft with a capacity of 126 seats, 114 Coach and 12 first-class seats.
“We are very excited about providing this historic new service to Cuba from our nation’s capital and the greater Baltimore region, and these new flights will make our client’s visit to the island more convenient and enjoyable,” says Bill Hauf, president of Island Travel & Tours, Ltd.
BWI is located near I-95 and is easily accessible from southern New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia and nearby Ohio, Hauf says.