Travel agencies out thousands after flights to Cuba halted WZVN News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral
HAVANA, Nov. 15th. Less than two weeks since the first flight to Cuba from Southwest Florida International Airport, Choice Aire has temporarily discontinued the service.

The decision has cost local travel agencies thousands. A lot of them say their phones have been ringing off the hook with customers demanding refunds.

After President Obama relaxed relations with Cuba in January, Choice Aire CEO Danny Looney started working on plans to offer commercial flights to the country.

Some businesses in Southwest Florida latched on to the idea.

“We started booking. We started doing a lot of advertising,” said Jesse Reyes with Jema Travel Agency.

But Reyes fears it may all have been too soon after she was informed that Choice Aire was discontinuing flights to Cuba from RSW.

Local travel agencies like Jema spent thousands to advertise vacation packages to Cuba, and they said it worked. Even this weekend they were getting calls, but it was business they had to turn away.

They also don’t know why and Choice Aire isn’t exactly giving a straight answer. An email to NBC2 from the airline cited an unforeseeable technicality with the airport. NBC2 reached out Choice on Sunday for further explanation, but has yet to hear back.

“We decided to refund our customers from our money, because our idea is they’re suffering enough to know that they know they’re not going. They’re demanding answers, they’re demanding their money back,” Reyes said.

She said Choice owes her more than $10,000 in ticket refunds.