American Airlines is celebrating 25 years of charter service to Cuba.
American’s first charter flight to Cuba departed Miami International Airport for Jose Marti International Airport in Havana on April 5, 1991.
That’s a far cry from today’s hyper-competitive Cuba charter market, soon to become a full-fledged, regularly-scheduled commercial one.
“Back then, going to Cuba was like going to the moon,” said Leo Rodriguez, a Miami-based Tower Planner who has coordinated American’s Cuba charter flights for the past 25 years. “It was not like it is today. But I always thought our work was important and we were laying the foundation for a regular operation. It has been really exciting because we were pioneers.”
Rodriguez, who was born in Cuba and is a 35-year employee of American Airlines, said he is optimistic about the prospect of regularly scheduled flights to his home country.
“It’s going to be the culmination of 25 years of work. We have worked really hard and all those efforts are about to pay off. I am proud to have been part of something that is about to give birth to something bigger.”
American is now looking to expand its service to Cuba through additional service to Havana from its hubs in Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Last month, American submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Transportation proposing to operate these services, along with daily service between Miami and five other Cuban cities.