US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will travel to Cuba on Wednesday, August 31, and he will be arriving at the Abel Santamaria terminal in Santa Clara. Afterward, he will continue trip to Havana where he has requested meetings with Cuban Minister of Transport Adel Yzquierdo Rodríguez and Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla.
This was informed at a press conference by Deputy Minister of Transport Eduardo Rodríguez Dávila, who said that the new regular routes —which JetBleu will be opened this Aug. 31 by the Villa Clara International Airport, reopening USA-Cuba regular commercial flights after 53 years— are a positive step forward to concrete cooperation for the improvement of relations between the two countries.
Eduardo Rodríguez added that the new regular routes are part of the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding between Washington and Havana signed on February 2016, which will be applied on the basis of mutual respect and reciprocity. However, he stressed that the blockade laws still prevent the arrival of tourists.
The current administration in Washington changed some regulations of the blockade in 2015 and 2016, allowing 12 categories of travelers to the island, but these modifications are insufficient because it prohibits tourism, limiting the right of US citizens.
The deputy minister noted that the Cuban airports have been preparing for years for the increasing in the arrival of travelers from abroad. And this which was supported by Miguel Landera from the Cuban Aviation Corporation, who talked about the process of hiring the services of the airlines that will fly from this Wednesday onward, corresponding to the same requirements of those 110 other aviation companies currently flying to Cuba.
Thus, Landera highlighted that Cuban airports are ready, and distribution of the operational flows have been arranged for avoiding conflicts in peak time. He said that in 2015 there was an increase of 18 percent of operations over the previous year, and that increase reached the 24 percent in the case of Havana. Between 17 and 18 charter flights are daily arriving from the United States.
Likewise, Landera recalled that Cuba is been carrying out a process of modernization of its entire airport infrastructure, which involves the enlargement and development of the main terminals to raise their capacities of receiving travelers with the highest standards of quality and professionalism. Cuba has 28 air terminals: ten of them for regular and charter international operations.
For his part, the President of the Institute of Civil Aeronautics of Cuba (IACC) Alfredo Cordero Puig pointed out the steps followed to reach this reopening of the regular trade routes. First, the talk process that ended in the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on 16 February, 2016; on June 10, the US Department of Transportation made a report on the authorized lines and embarkation and destination airports; and finally, the negotiating process between the authorized airlines with the IACC.
These companies have been given all facilities and support to carry out this step in the most practical and best way possible, he said. And this allows Jet Blue begins operations this August 31. In addition, Silver Airway will also come to Santa Clara on September 1st , while American Airlines will begin flying to Holguin and Cienfuegos on September 7.
Cordero Puig said that other authorized airlines like Frontier, Southwest and Sun Country will begin operation in the near winter season under their own decision. All these airlines will fight to nine airports in Cuba. Havana will begin when the US Department of Transportation decides authorizations for US airlines, following this same process.
Cordero highlighted that Cuba has been working together with the US Transportation Security since 15 years, following all requirements, procedures and standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which Cuba meets with all airlines flying into Cuba or flying over the Cuban territory.
During these 15 years, there hasn’t been any incident and this is the result of making everything necessary to ensure safety, which measures are constantly increased by Cuban authorities, fulfilling what is stipulated in the United States and the rest of the world, like X rays, canine techniques and other highly effective techniques require by safe flights, he added.Translated by ESTI