Tuesday, August 18, 2015

American Airlines to charter flights from LAX to Havana

Flying to Cuba will be getting easier for Angelenos.

Less than a month after the United States resumed diplomatic relations with the island nation, American Airlines said Tuesday that it would begin offering charter flights from Los Angeles to Havana.

Partnering with tour operator Cuba Travel Services, based in Cypress, the airline will offer Saturday flights on Boeing 737s out of Los Angeles International Airport beginning in December. The carrier said it would be the first company to offer nonstop service from the West Coast to Cuba since travel restrictions were loosened this year.

The flights could be a warm-up for bigger plans, if Congress were to lift the multi-decade economic embargo against Cuba.

“We stand ready to offer scheduled service as soon as the United States and Cuba allow commercial flights,” Art Torno, a senior vice president at American Airlines, said in a statement.

American Airlines will also offer direct flights from Miami and Tampa, Fla., with destinations besides Havana including the Cuban cities of Camaguey, Cienfuegos, Holguin and Santa Clara. The airline is estimating that it will have sent about 1,200 planes to Cuba by the end of the year, more than its competitors.

Round trip tickets will begin at $899 per person, and be available for both groups and individuals.

The restoration of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba is creating new options for getting to the island, although travelers must present specific reasons to visit other than tourism, such as cultural exchange, journalism or family visits. Last month, Carnival Corp. announced that it had secured approval from U.S. officials to begin travel to Cuba next year.

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