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Plane service from Key West to Cuba might add third weekly flight

Plane service from Key West to Cuba might add third weekly flight
BY ANTHONY CAVE
KeysInfoNet

Air service between the Southernmost City and Cuba is off to a strong
start after restarting in March, and more flights might be added.

Havana Air Chief Executive Officer David Nesslein said this week that
the eventual goal is to provide daily service between Key West
International Airport and Jose Martí International Airport in Havana.
The Miami-based company is a government-licensed charter operator behind
the flights.

“In most cases, we’ve been full,” Nesslein said.

After adding a Monday morning flight to Havana about three weeks ago,
Havana Air now leaves Mondays and Fridays at 10 a.m. from Key West to
Havana. The 90-mile flight, which lasts about 45 minutes, costs $525
round trip. Return flights are Mondays and Fridays.

Havana Air uses commercial carrier Air Key West and its nine-passenger
BN-2T Turbine Islander. Miami travel company Mambi International Group
sells tickets out of its North Roosevelt Boulevard office, which opened
in December

Air Key West President Robert Valle said the addition of the Monday
flight was partially due to customers not wanting to stay a whole week
in Cuba. Havana Air may add a Wednesday flight if demand continues.

“It just kind of depends on the [passenger] loads,” Nesslein said. “We
like Key West; I think it’s a great market for us.”

Havana Air is also working on letting customers buy tickets online, like
they would for any other commercial flight. Nesslein said that may
happen later this year.

The steady influx of planes to the communist country from Key West comes
after last December’s announcement by President Obama and Cuban
President Raúl Castro of eased travel restrictions on U.S. residents
going to Cuba following half a century of not allowing Americans to
travel there.

Those who want to travel to Cuba no longer need a specific license as
long as they meet criteria under one of 12 federal categories, including
family visits, humanitarian projects and religious activities.

Traveling there for tourism remains banned but the government really has
no way to enforce that since travelers could maintain they went to Cuba
under one of the 12 reasons allowed.

Designating Key West International Airport as an international point of
entry from the U.S. began in 2009 with a request to U.S. Customs and
Border Protection.

A three-phase, $2.25 million project reclassification process ensued,
with federal officials signing off on the upgrades in October 2011.

Last year, another operator tried Key West to Cuba flights, but the
venture lasted only about six weeks.

Source: Plane service from Key West to Cuba might add third weekly
flight | Miami Herald Miami Herald –
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/florida-keys/article25970794.html

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