Rules Eased For Business Jets To Cuba
Nov 17, 2015 ShowNews
Cuba’s Havana Jose MartiAirport is the entry point of choice.
True capitalists are always looking for new ways to expand business, and
with the tropical chill there now warming, U.S. business leaders – and
the aircraft that carry them – are pointing south to Cuba, that
Communist white-beach bastion, and market, seemingly frozen in time.
While the outreach by the Obama administration to improve political and
economic relations with the island nation has its share of critics, the
chance to expand tourism and to satisfy the hunger for goods and
services of Cuba’s 11 million residents has caught the attention of
American travelers and businesses.
“There’s pent-up demand and interest among Americans about Cuba,” says
David Rimmer, president of JFI Jets, a charter operator with bases in
Farmingdale, New York; Long Beach, California; and West Palm Beach,
Florida. He believes the recent, well-publicized visit by the Pope
further heightened interest in Cuba.
According to Rimmer, “There are few occasions in this business to
pioneer a new market. I see Cuba as a huge opportunity.”
As a result, early this year JFI sought and received the necessary
approvals from various federal agencies to enable its aircraft to
traverse the Florida Straits and alight at Havana’s José Martí
International Airport (see photo). To date, JFI has operated three
flights into Cuba; it has another three booked and more in the pipeline.
While the flights are quick – it’s just a 250-nm hop from Palm Beach
International to José Martí – initiating them has been complicated,
though even that glacial effort is thawing as well.
At the moment, licenses to travel there are restricted to a dozen
mission categories such as media, cultural exchanges and such – notably,
tourism is not among them, but Rimmer and others believe that will
change in time. Operators must depart from and return to one of 19
“gateway” airports, of which Palm Beach is one. JFI relies on its
passengers to arrange trips through tour operators in part to ensure
they qualify. And passengers must complete affidavits attesting to the
legality of the trip, which the operator must keep on file for at least
In early October, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)
alerted members that recent changes by the federal treasury and commerce
departments now allow U.S.-based aircraft operators authorized by the
FAA to fly into Cuba to keep their aircraft there on “temporary sojourn”
up to seven consecutive days. Previously, aircraft were limited to a
The latest revisions also allow, on a case-by-case basis, for
export/re-export to Cuba of items “to help ensure the safety of civil
aviation and the safe operation of commercial passenger aircraft,”
including aircraft parts and components, software and technology related
to safety of flight, air traffic control, aviation communications and
weather equipment, airport safety equipment and devices used for
security screening of passengers and baggage.
And air ambulance and other related emergency medical services for
travelers in Cuba are now authorized by general license.
Although Cuba has 10 international airports, Rimmer says that so far all
his charter customers wanted to land at Havana only. However, with
opportunities expanding to telecommunications and Internet services, and
the ability to open bank accounts and offices in Cuba, the capitalist
flights and destinations are likely to expand as well.
Source: Rules Eased For Business Jets To Cuba | NBAA 2015 content from
Aviation Week –