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Houston Sees First Flight to Cuba


February 2, 2012



© Houston Airport System
The first Cuba-bound charter flight from George Bush Intercontinental Airport took off on February 2, 2012.
The first Cuba-bound charter flight from George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) took off on February 2, 2012.

“This is a wonderful, historic opportunity for the city of Houston,” said Houston Airport System director Mario C. Diaz. “This is the first of what we expect will be many flights between Houston and Cuba as IAH becomes the gateway of choice for travelers authorized to fly to Cuba by the U.S. government.” 

The flight, which carried 80 passengers aboard a Boeing 737 aircraft, was the result of relaxed travel rules that went into effect last year.

The Havana-bound passengers took off from the Terminal D facility at IAH, flying into Jose Marti International Airport (HAV) approximately two hours later. 

It’s been one year since President Obama eased travel prohibitions stemming from a half-century-old embargo. The President opened the door for travel and trips by authorized groups in a small number of specific areas, including agriculture, medicine, education and religious activity.

In the past, this type of travel between the United States and Cuba was limited to just three American airports, John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City, Los Angeles International Airport and Miami International Airport, but in March 2011, IAH and nine other airports were added to the list of authorized facilities.

“It’s always exciting when you’re the first to do something new,” said one passenger as they boarded the plane. “I think we’re all hoping that this is the first of many flights to and from Cuba.”

The aircraft used for the Houston flight is owned by Miami Air International. The chief executive officer of that company has publicly stated that he’s interested in increasing flights to the island from Houston.

There are no immediate plans for future charter flights between the two cities, but the Houston Airport System is hopeful that additional service will be available in the future.
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