Blockade will impede flight potential from US, says senior Cuban official

Updated: 2016-08-31 09:09


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HAVANA - Cuba's senior Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday that the direct scheduled flights from the United States, which will resume from Wednesday, will only have real potential when the US government puts an end to the economic blockade against the Caribbean island.

"Scheduled flights (from) the US will reach real potential only when the travel ban to Cuba, which is still in place due to the blockade, comes to an end," wrote Josefina Vidal, director general for US affairs in Cuba's Foreign Ministry, on her official Twitter account.

US airline JetBlue will have the honor of officially starting up commercial flights between the US and Cuba. The company will open a route between the Fort Lauderdale international airport in Florida and the "Abel Santamaria" terminal in Santa Clara, in the centre of the island, putting an end to over 50 years of suspension.

US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx will arrive in JetBlue's Airbus A320, kicking off his official visit to Cuba which will include holding conversations with his Cuban counterpart Adel Yzquierdo and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

Resuming scheduled flights between Cuba and the United States is one of the most important advances in the normalization process, after the official renewal of bilateral relations in July 2015.

US companies JetBlue, Silver Airways, American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Sun Country Airlines were authorized in July by the US Department of Transport to run a total of 110 flights a day to Cuba. Out of this number, 90 land in cities that are not Havana and 20 flights a day go to the Cuban capital.

Since the thaw in relations between Havana and Washington, US President Barack Obama, a Democrat, has adopted a series of measures to ease the trade restrictions with the island. However, the US Congress, of Republican majority, remain unwilling to lift the trade embargo imposed by the White House in 1962.

This policy, which Cuba sees as the main obstacle towards the total normalization of bilateral relations, includes banning US citizens from travelling to the Caribbean island for tourism purposes.