California-based Cuba Travel Services will start running weekly Tuesday afternoon flights on a 737 out of New York on March 17 for $779, the charter flight company said. The fare will be $849 every week thereafter. “It’s obviously very, very exciting. The more cities we have connecting the United States to Cuba, the better,” said the company’s head of marketing, Emily Sanchez. “We’ve been excited to do it for quite a while, we’ve just been waiting for the right time. “Culturally speaking, New York and Cuba are so close. We wanted to bridge that gap.”
The charter flight package, which has been in the works for about a year, was supposed to run out of Newark airport, but officials there denied Cuba Travel so they went with JFK, staff said. It’s not known why Newark nixed the flight. “The Cuban airport authorities were pretty open to granting a permit. They were excited.
They wanted to make it work,” Sanchez said. Requests for comment from the Port Authority, which operates JFK airport, were not immediately returned.
Travel restrictions are still in effect for Americans so only those who fall into the 12 categories permitted by the US government will be able to book Cuba Travel flights. Those categories include people traveling to Cuba for family visits, to do government work, journalism and several other limited categories.
The recent normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, while exciting, didn’t have any direct impact on their New York flight plan, Sanchez said. Federal legislators however have proposed lifting all travel bans to Cuba.
Cuba Travel already runs about 20 flights a week out of Miami and Tampa, Sanchez said. For now, the company is only planning the one flight per week from JFK. “We have no plans any time soon to expand New York service. We’re just getting our feet wet,” Sanchez said.