Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Posted on Wednesday, 11.21.12

TRAVEL TO CUBA

Cuba cancels 2 charter firms' flights

Two of the largest operators of charter flights to Cuba had their

permits suspended by the Cuban government. No reason was given.

By Juan Carlos Chavez

jcchavez@ElNuevoHerald.com

Cuba has decided to suspend, beginning Nov. 27, charter-flight operating

permits to fly to the island for Airline Brokers and C&T Charters, two

of the most important and recognized agencies of this type in South Florida.

Havanatur Celimar, the Cuban state agency that administers and regulates

the operations, announced the decision Wednesday.

Reasons for the sudden decision remained unclear. However, sources

linked to the industry said that the order could be related to delays in

payments and other obligations.

In a statement published on the Airline Brokers website, its owner,

Vivian Mannerud, said that the suspension was the result of a

"re-evaluation of flights in the market as well as other topics."

"At this time, Airline Brokers is trying to ascertain whether other

providers of charter flights to Cuba can accommodate all the passengers

affected by this cancellation," the statement said. "Airline Brokers

will contact you or the travel agency where you bought your ticket. If

you cannot be accommodated on another flight, your ticket will be

refunded at the same agency where you paid for it. Airline Brokers is

making all possible arrangements in the quickest possible way to help

accommodate all the passengers. Contact your travel agency as soon as

possible."

Airline Brokers has a long history of chartered flights to the island.

Just a few days ago, it coordinated the shipping of humanitarian aid

sent to people affected by Hurricane Sandy in eastern Cuba. It also

worked with the Archdiocese of Miami and the Cuban Catholic Church in

the transportation of hundreds of parishioners during the visit of Pope

Benedict XVI on March 26-28, which included the celebration of Masses in

Santiago de Cuba and Havana.

Airline Brokers operates seven flights a week from the Miami and Fort

Lauderdale airports to the cities of Havana and Cienfuegos. It is one of

eight companies that organize charter flights to Cuba.

In April, its office was destroyed by a fire that was later ruled to

have been set intentionally. The fire forced Mannerud's company to open

a new office in Coral Gables, whose inauguration was officiated by the

archbishop of Miami, Thomas Wenski.

The fire started at dawn on April 27 in a portion of an office complex

primarily occupied by attorneys and other professionals.. The

investigation is continuing.

The other agency, C&T Charters, operates charter flights to Havana and

Camaguey from air terminals in Miami, Chicago and New York. Its owner is

John H. Cabañas, who for a long time has had close contact with the

Cuban government. The agency has provided its services uninterruptedly

since June 1991. It has offices in Miami, the Keys and New York.

El Nuevo Herald tried to reach both Mannerud and Cabañas by phone to

comment on the sudden suspension, but the calls were not returned.

Airline Brokers and C&T Charters are the only U.S. companies that

organize travel for special pilgrimages.

The news of the cancellation comes at a delicate time due to the

upcoming Christmas and New Year holidays.

Recently, Cuba's Office of National Statistics reported that 400,000

citizens living in foreign countries visited the island in 2011, among

them 300,000 living in the United States.

Cuba expanded its airports in Havana and Cienfuegos (in the

south-central area), Camagüey, Holguín and Santiago de Cuba (in the

east), besides Santa Clara (in the center) and Manzanillo (also in the

east).

It is calculated that in the short term, doors will be opened on both

sides of the Florida Straits, as well as in other destinations, due to a

greater and more intense flow of passengers after Cuba's announcement of

new immigration regulations for its citizens..

In October, Cuba announced immigration reform that will become effective

on Jan. 14.

The reform eliminates the need of the exit permit and the invitation

letter currently required of citizens to be allowed to travel abroad.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/21/3108730/cuba-cancels-2-charter-firms-flights.html


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