Another domino fell last week in the saga of revamped relations between the United States and Cuba as Island Travel & Tours, Ltd. began operating direct flights to Cuba capital city Havana, departing from Orlando International Airport (MCO).
The charter flights, which are flown by Swift Air, use 150-passenger Boeing 737-400 airplanes and take about 90 minutes. Current routes include flights on Wednesdays and Sundays that depart at 12:30 P.M. Airfares currently run about $450.
The way was paved by President Barack Obama’s announcement in December 2014 that the United States is taking steps to improve diplomatic relations between the two nations—steps including allowing Americans to legally board flights to Cuba for the first time since 1960, the year after Fidel Castro’s regime seized power in Cuba.
“President Obama’s announcement…to resume diplomatic relations and open an embassy in Cuba has made Americans feel more secure in traveling to Cuba, said Bill Hauf, president of Island Travel & Tours. “Americans can now devote their time to explore and discover the many mysteries of this country and learn first-hand about this beautiful island and the genuine and generous people who live only 90 miles from our shore.”
Island Travel & Tours also offers flight packages from Tampa and Miami international airports (TPA and MIA, respectively). Other carriers have started operating flights to Cuba out of New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans (MSY), and other departure cities are expected to follow.
American travelers still have some restrictions, and must specify one of 12 allowable reasons to visit Cuba. Reasons include family visits, humanitarian projects, public performances, competitions, educational activities and journalistic pursuits.
In addition to arranging a flight from Orlando, Island Travel & Tours can help travelers book accommodations and tours of Havana’s historic neighborhoods and cultural attractions.