The first scheduled commercial flight in more than 50 years took off from the United States to Cuba on Wednesday. Diplomatic relations between the former Cold War rivals were restored after President Barack Obama decided to reopen diplomatic channels in 2014.
JetBlue was the first American airline to fly the scheduled service between the two countries, The New York Times reported. The first flight took off from Fort Lauderdale in the US and will land in Cuba's Santa Clara. The publication quoted JetBlue's executive vice president Marty St George, who said, “From a challenge perspective, we know the drill. Cuba has some unique elements because of 50 years of history between the US and Cuba, but we’re ready to go.”
President of the US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council John S Kavulich said six other airlines have also received clearance to fly to Cuban cities, but that none have declared their flight schedules yet. For decades now, people wishing to fly from US to Cuba had to book charter flights that required passengers to reach the airport four hours ahead of the flight's departure to pay for extremely expensive tickets.
However, stakeholders, particularly charter flight owners, are skeptical about the rising demand for tickets to Cuba. Michael Zuccato of Cuba Travel Services expressed doubts about the flights being fully booked to Cuba.