Angling to become the first airline to offer regularly scheduled service from the United States to Cuba in more than half a century, Silver Airways put tickets on sale Wednesday to nine destinations on the island.
Pending Cuban government approval, it plans to offer its first flight from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to Santa Clara, Cuba, at 7:45 a.m. on Sept. 1.
Silver will fly to Santa Clara, a city in Central Cuba, three times weekly and is offering a discount of 33 percent off its base price for passengers who book by June 30. With the discount, the fare for the inaugural flight to Santa Clara would be $313.16.
American Airlines has already announced plans to offer its first commercial service to Cuba — a flight from Miami International Airport to Cienfuegos — on Sept. 7.
As part of the Obama administration’s rapprochement with Cuba, last week the Department of Transportation approved the requests of six U.S. airlines to begin commercial service to nine Cuban cities outside Havana.
U.S. airlines have requested more than 300 weekly flights to Havana. DOT has said it expects to authorize Havana routes by the end of summer but the number has been capped at 140 weekly flights.
Silver, which has been operating routes within Florida and to the Bahamas, plans to offer flights to nine Cuban cities on its 34-seat planes. In addition to the Santa Clara flight, it hopes to operate routes from Fort Lauderdale to Camagüey, Cienfuegos, and Holguín starting in October, flights to Santiago and Cayo Coco in November and routes to Varadero, Cayo Largo and Manzanillo beginning in December.
“We look forward to being the very first airline to provide service to Cuba starting this September,” said Silver Airways President and CEO Sami Teittinen.
“In addition to serving the first nine destinations in Cuba from Fort Lauderdale, we look forward to the DOT’s approval of Silver’s 10th destination – Havana,” said Silver’s Chief Financial Officer Jason Bewley. Silver wants to serve Havana from various Florida cities. “Direct airline routes from Havana to West Palm Beach, Fort Myers, Key West, and Jacksonville are critical to the large Cuban-American populations in these important Florida communities,” Bewley said.