CheapAir.com, which started piecing together commercial flights between the United States and Cuba with stops in Mexico earlier this year, plans to start offering direct charter flights to authorized travelers on Wednesday.
The online travel agency will offer direct flights from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Tampa International Airport to Havana. From Miami, travelers can book direct flights to Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Santa Clara, Camaguey, Cienfuegos and Holguin. Miami flights will operate daily, while Tampa trips will take place on Sundays and Thursdays and New York flights are scheduled for Tuesdays.
Flights will be operated by charter company Cuba Travel Services. In the past, travelers had to book direct charter flights through an authorized charter operator or or airline broker. CheapAir says it is the first online travel agency to offer direct flights between the two countries.
Passengers still must certify that they fall into one of 12 categories of authorized travel, including educational activities, athletic competitions or people-to-people programs. The U.S. Treasury Department no longer requires those citizens to apply for a specific license when visiting Cuba. Regulations became less stringent in January after President Barack Obama announced the month before that he wanted to ease travel restrictions to the island.
On Tuesday, Obama called for Cuba to be removed from a list of nations that are state sponsors of terrorism.