Transport in Cuba
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Orlando International Airport will offer flights to Cuba starting July 8

Orlando International Airport will offer flights to Cuba starting July 8
By Dan Tracy contact the reporter

Direct weekly flights to Cuba from Orlando International Airport will
start July 8, marking the first time in decades that people can leave
from Central Florida to the island nation 90 miles south of Key West.

Island Travel & Tours, based in Tampa, will fly each Wednesday from
Orlando International to Havana, Cuba, said company owner Bill Hauf.

A roundtrip coach ticket will cost $429 for the hour and 15 minute
flight, he said.

“We’re really excited. This is a great location,” Hauf said of Orlando.

The trip is possible because President Obama in December relaxed strict
travel restrictions to Cuba, which has been the subject of an American
embargo since 1960, or a year after Fidel Castro overthrew the Batista
government and established a Communist regime.

The new rules allow travel agents and carriers to book flights to Cuba
for American citizens without the permission of the U.S. government, as
was previously the case.

Essentially, travelers have to fill out a form and choose one of 12
reasons for the trip, ranging from Cuban Americans visiting family to
Americans who are going for religious, educational or cultural reasons.

Americans also will be allowed to use credit cards, which previously was
prohibited.

Vicki Jaramillo, senior director of air service development and
marketing at Orlando International, said Island Travel approached the
airport about establishing a Cuba route.

“It’s kind of a progression that Orlando would get this,” she said,
adding that international airports in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa
already offer the service.

Orlando International, she said, will be able to attract travelers from
Central Florida and parts of the East Coast, all the way north to
Jacksonville.

The announcement was bittersweet for Cuban Americans such as George
Rodon and Bertica Cabrera Morris.

Rodon, who was chief of staff for former Orange County Mayor Rich
Crotty, said he has no intention of returning to the island he last saw
in 1961. That’s when he emigrated to the United States with his mother.

People who have never been to Cuba, he said, consider it “exotic because
it has been under wraps for so long.”

But, he said, as long as Raul Castro is in charge, the government will
benefit more from American tourists rather than the Cuban people.

“What you may see is not the real Cuba,” Rodon said. “It’s up to you,
but just be aware.”

Morris, who left Cuba in 1967, said she would love to go back to her
homeland, but not until she is certain the Castro government will treat
people with respect.

“I’m excited,” Morris said, “but these guys are not changing and that
worries me.”

Hauf said he is renting a Boeing 737 that carries 120 passengers from a
Phoenix company. If demand is great enough, Hauf said, he intends to
start a Sunday flight, too.

In addition to flights, Hauf said, he can provide travelers with visas,
as well as accommodations and transportation.

dltracy@tribune.com or 407-420-5444. Caitlin Dineen contributed to this
report.

Source: Orlando airport will offer flights to Cuba on July 8 – Orlando
Sentinel –
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/tourism/tourism-central-florida-blog/os-orlando-international-airport-cuba-flights-20150409-post.html

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