Angola's TAAG opens flights to Havana, Cape Town

Angola's national carrier, banned from flying within the EU, has begun direct flights to Cape Town and plans a new service to Havana, state media said Tuesday.

"From December TAAG will start direct flights to Havana, capital of Cuba," national radio said, adding that the Cape Town route was already operating.

TAAG, which is banned from flying within the European Union except to Lisbon because of safety concerns, on Monday made the first of its two flights a week to the South African city on a Boeing 737.

"We are optimistic that we will be sending full flights from Luanda to Cape Town and have full flights from Cape Town to Luanda," TAAG spokesman Rui Carreira said.

"It is an important tourist destination in South Africa and many oil company employees who work in Angola use Cape Town as a hub to get back to their country of origin."

The Cape Town link will also offer a new travel options to fans travelling to the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola in January.

The route to Havana will help transport the thousands of Cuban teachers and doctors who are currently working in the southern African country.

However the new flights come as TAAG reduces its flight frequency to Lisbon, its only European destination.

According to newspaper and radio announcements, the airline will now run just one daily flight to the Portuguese capital during November, not two as before, for unspecified "operational reasons".

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