Could Cuba be back on the US tourist schedule?
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Friday 14 December 2012
For more than 50 years American airlines have been banned from flying to Cuba because of Washington’s strict embargo against commercial dealings with its Communist foe.
But now there are hopes that the sanctions could be eased – and direct flights resume – thanks to a deal between Sir Richard Branson’s airline and the American carrier, Delta.
Virgin Atlantic is currently 49 per cent owned by Singapore Airlines. Delta, the world’s biggest carrier, is bidding for that stake. If and when almost half the airline becomes US-owned, Virgin will continue with its thrice-weekly jumbo jet from Gatwick to Cuba. A spokeswoman for Virgin Atlantic said: “We have no plans to cancel flying to Havana”.
At Delta’s Atlanta headquarters, the planned minority ownership of an airline serving Cuba is not regarded as an issue according to a spokesman for the airline. The confidence that the Virgin’s Havana connection will continue has led to speculation that the Obama administration is preparing to ease the long-standing embargo.
Chris Parrott, director of the specialist travel firm, Journey Latin America, said: “One would imagine that Delta has spoken to people in power rather than just going ahead on a commercial basis”. Trying to book a flight to Havana on a US-owned website is currently either frustrating or amusing, depending on your degree of impatience. When you tap in “Havana” as your destination, Travelocity.co.uk instructs “Verify the location is a valid airport or city”.
Neither does Expedia.co.uk recognise the Cuban capital, offering 10 alternatives airports “with a similar name” – all of them scattered across the state of Hawaii.
The sanctions are so restrictive that Boots travel insurance, which is underwritten by an American-owned company, does not cover British visitors to Cuba. And at one stage the giant tour operator, Thomson, abandoned its entire UK-Cuba programme because of fears that its directors might be barred from the USA.
Neil Taylor, who pioneered travel to Cuba in the 1970s for Regent Holidays, said two-centre holidays comprising the island and Florida would appeal to British travellers: “Miami and the Florida Keys, would offer a total contrast to Cuba. Boat travel would be the way to approach Havana – and then the 1950s will have well and truly returned.
“Ernest Hemingway can perhaps be seen as the pioneer for such a sojourn, having kept a house in Key West and Havana. Both are now museums.”
- 1 2015 General Election: Green party will not appear in TV debate alongside Ukip – says BBC
- 3 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
Tim Cook: Apple CEO comes out as gay publicly for the first time 'It's among the greatest gifts God has given me'
Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
Halloween 2014: From the Screaming Man of Pluckley to the 'White Lady' of the Tower of London - Britain's 20 most haunted places
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'
vary Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - AN OPENING AT A VERY HIGH Q...
£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...
£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...
£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...