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Uncertainty surrounds charter flights from Pittsburgh to Cuba

Uncertainty surrounds charter flights from Pittsburgh to Cuba
THERESA CLIFT | Monday, April 3, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

Plans to launch charter service between Pittsburgh International Airport
and Cuba are on hold indefinitely, a spokesman said Monday.

Miami-based Choice Aire planned to start offering twice-weekly charter
flights to Cuba by the end of last year, but those flights never got off
the ground. Pittsburgh airport spokesman Bob Kerlik said he doesn’t
expect them to do so this year, if at all.

“Charter flights to Cuba are still a focus, and we will continue to work
on that, whether it’s with Choice Aire or another carrier,” Kerlik told
the Tribune-Review.

After airports nationwide began offering regularly scheduled flights to
Cuba last year, demand for charter flights waned, Kerlik said. A
scaling-back of regularly scheduled service, however, could increase
demand for charter flights, he said.

The airport received federal approval in 2011 to offer nonstop flights
to Cuba.

A one-time-only charter went from Pittsburgh to Cuba last month, Kerlik
said. It was the first to travel to the communist country from the
Findlay facility. That flight, through Eastern Air Lines, contained
local business people, Kerlik said.

News that the Cuba charter flights were on hold came as a disappointment
to the University of Pittsburgh’s Study Abroad Office, which sends about
25 students to Cuba each year.

“It shouldn’t affect our study-abroad plans. It would’ve just been more
convenient,” Jeff Whitehead, the office’s director, said.

Students fly to Miami, Fort Lauderdale or New York to catch connecting
flights to Cuba for one-week trips during spring break or six-week
visits during the summer, Whitehead said.

The airport will begin receiving charter flights from China this year
through a Chinese tourism company, it announced last week. It will
launch regularly scheduled service to Iceland and Germany in June.

Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at
412-380-5669 or tclift@tribweb.com.

Source: Uncertainty surrounds charter flights from Pittsburgh to Cuba |
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