Alaska Airlines starts commercial flights to Havana

This January 5 the U.S. Alaska Airlines company initiated its commercial flights to Havana, a destination that will have daily flights from the city of Los Angeles to José Martí International Airport.

According to statements by Francisco Albiter, general director of the company for Mexico, Costa Rica and Cuba, Alaska is flying to Cuba with Boeing 737-900s with capacity for 181 passengers, the airline’s most renovated fleet. The flights originate in Seattle (Washington), with a stopover in Los Angeles and arrive in the Cuban capital at 4:55 p.m., after a close to two-hour flight.

Founded in 1932, Alaska Airlines is at present the fifth largest U.S. airline. Its arrival in Havana closes the cycle of arrivals of the eight companies authorized by the Department of the Treasury, which began with JetBlue in August 2016. American Airlines, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, y United complete the list.

Albiter commented that the Cuban-American population of the United States’ west coast had never had a flight to the Cuban capital, and to travel to the island they had to go to Florida or make other combinations. This increases the relevance of Alaska’s services in Cuba.

“The west coast is the country’s third region where the most Cuban Americans live. Attempts have been made for years to connect those persons with the Cuban capital and at last we achieved it. We are the only company to have done so,” he said.

Moreover, he affirmed that the airline has sold 80 percent of the arrival to Havana tickets for the next three months.

“Alaska was the first airline that applied with the U.S. authorities to obtain a license to travel to Havana. It was the only one that represented the west coast and now it is the last to arrive on Cuban soil. It is said that the last will be the first, and that can be applied to us with this inaugural flight,” commented Albiter.

Schedule of new service

Starting date Cities Departure Arrival Frequency
January 5 Seattle to Los Angeles 5 a.m. 7:39 a.m. Daily service
January 5 Los Angeles to Havana 8:50 a.m. 4:55 p.m. Daily service
January 5 Havana to Los Angeles 5:55 p.m. 8:45 p.m. Daily service
January 5/6 Los Angeles to Seattle 11:45 p.m. 2:35 a.m. Daily service

Flight schedules are based on local time zones

Meanwhile, Joseph A. Sprague, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Alaska Airlines, thanked the Cuban authorities for their support during the operations and affirmed that the level of enthusiasm on the U.S. west coast to visit this country is very high.

Despite the recent resumption of commercial flights between the two countries, Washington’s economic blockade regulations against the island still prevent U.S. citizens from traveling to Cuba as tourists. This is why they have to opt for one of the 12 categories established by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

Despite this, Juan Carlos Quintana, general director of José Martí International Airport, specified that with the arrival of Alaska Airlines the 20 daily flights by U.S. companies to the island are completed. In an overview of this first month of U.S.-Havana flights the official assessed the air operations as favorable and added that the movement of passengers through José Martí International Airport’s terminals 2 and 3 has great weight.

“There is a constant growth in the tendency of arrival of travelers through U.S. companies,” he commented.

According to Quintana, at the close of 2016 the airport broke all the records in departures and arrivals with 5.3 million passengers. Regarding the growth in operations he said that the airport is incorporating “special equipment to offer better services to the more than 40 international airlines operating in our terminal.”

The Havana airport’s director confirmed the decrease in charter flights with the increase and establishment of the commercial ones.

Until the start of the regular flights, some 30 charter flights had daily flights to Cuba from the United States for around 500 dollars. The start of regular flights has significantly reduced the airfare prices.

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