Cuba says U.S. commercial flights welcome
By Marc Frank
HAVANA Aug 26 (Reuters) - Cuba said on Friday it was ready to receive U.S. commercial flights beginning next week and that it viewed their renewal after being suspended in 1961 as another positive step in a growing detente.
JetBlue is scheduled to inaugurate direct flights between the long-time nemeses on Aug. 31, when it flies from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Villa Clara in central Cuba.
American Airlines in September will start flying from Miami to the provinces, followed by other airlines.
There will be 20 daily flights to Havana by the end of the year.
"It is a positive step and contribution to the improving relations between Cuba and the United States," Deputy Transportation Minister Eduardo Rodriguez told local media.
Josefina Vidal, who heads Cuba's U.S. diplomacy department, said Cuba had confirmed the JetBlue flight, removing the last technical hurdle of official approval.
Rodriguez said U.S. airlines would be handled in a similar fashion as the 110 airlines currently flying to Cuba and with equal attention to security issues that were already a normal part of the country's system.
"Cuba is strong in matters of operational and aviation security, which are recognized internationally," the Communist Party daily, Granma, quoted him as stating. Continuación...