Aviation

Flights USA to Cuba return after 50 years

Kate Webster

As the United States and Cuba take steps to boost ties, the first US commercial flight landed in Cuba in over 50 years yesterday.

JetBlue Flight 387 left Fort Lauderdale in Florida with 150 passengers on board and landed in the Cuban city of Santa Clara a little before 11am Wednesday (1am Thursday AEST).

The Jet Blue’s departure area at Fort Lauderdale was a party with a live salsa band playing Cuban favourites as passengers and bystanders broke into spontaneous dances.

At the other end in Cuba, the plane was greeted with a water cannon salute, an aviation tradition in which aircraft pass under arcs of water before flying to their destinations for the first time.

The first two passengers off the plane carried US and Cuban flags as they descended the stairs onto the tarmac, where they symbolically exchanged the banners in a sign of friendship.

Flights connecting US and Cuban cities are expected to climb to 110 daily trips, a far cry from when regular air service was severed during the Cold War, and charter flights have been the only air links since.

The JetBlue flight was flown by Captain Mark Luaces and First Officer Francisco Barreras, both Americans of Cuban descent, the airline said.


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