http://havanajournal.com/business/entry/raul-castro-allows-private-ownership-of-airplanes/

HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Business

Raul Castro allows private ownership… of airplanes

Posted November 18, 2007 by publisher in Cuba Business.
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AFP

Interim leader Raul Castro has unveiled arguably the most significant economic reform since taking the helm in communist Cuba, announcing that in some cases aircraft can be privately owned.

It is major news in a country that depends heavily on tourism to generate hard currency, though the announcement Thursday raised many questions without immediately delivering many answers.

Raul Castro, 76, the defense chief who took over July 31, 2006 when his brother Fidel Castro, now 81, stepped aside to undergo major intestinal surgery, is seen as a pragmatist, interested in Chinese and Vietnamese economic models.

The interim leader has changed some regulations by decree, changing customs duties payment rules and easing the importation of computers, videos and spare car parts.

But Thursday’s announcement in the government’s official gazette, almost a year and a half into his period of leadership, was the furthest-reaching to date, touted by the government as a move in the interest of Cuba’s economic growth.

“Aircraft ... are state-owned, socialist property of all the people. But their ownership can be transferred, in part or whole, in exceptional cases, to individuals or legal entities,” said the decree.

The announcement did not immediately make clear whether those potentially benefiting from the change would be Cuban individuals and entities, foreign individuals and groups, or both.

The measure stipulates that such an exceptional transfer of ownership will be carried out “in the interest of the country’s economic development, following approval by the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers,” led by Vice President Carlos Lage.

READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

Member Comments

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On November 18, 2007, publisher wrote:

Can anyone read this article and not wonder what the hell is going on in Cuba? Private ownership of airplanes? Is this what’s on Raul’s mind?

And this benefits the Cuban people how?

Raul, this is the wackiest thing you could come up with. All Cubans must first react in disbelief, then shock then outrage.

Good luck with that transition. With priorities like this, you’re going to need it.

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On November 18, 2007, manfredz wrote:

Of course in light of all the economic reforms necessary in Cuba, this seems ludicrous ..... but a little speculation on my part here ...
Long distance travel for tourists in Cuba is very limited and not too satisfactory…
Vialzul buses take 15 hours to go from havana to Santiago de Cuba.  Train travel, as I recently discovered, is only for teh hardy.
Never done any in-country flying with Cubana, but hear not too many tourists are happy with it.  So maybe he’s setting the stage for some joint ventures with foreign airlines to prop this up and bring in more money ...
As I said pure speculation on my part to try to make some sense out of this announcement.

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On November 18, 2007, publisher wrote:

It does look a bit silly. If he wanted foreign investment then he could allow a joint venture like every other joint venture in Cuba. This is probably so his buddies can offer intra-island travel and air tours.

Great for the Cuban people. NOT.

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On November 18, 2007, anders wrote:

I´m as bewildered as the rest of you but I think manfredz has a point. You can bet your a…s this will be debated all over the island for some time.
Perheps it is a careful way of initiating a debate on partial privatisations/ joint ventures of some costly enterprises.
I have flown Cubana domestic flights. It was alright, but nothing more. A glass of orange juice was all they offered. It seems reasonable Cubana is the object. Maybe it is a way to raise money to improve things ?

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On November 18, 2007, publisher wrote:

The odd thing is that I have searched all my news sources and cannot find this information other than its original source at http://www.caribbeannetnews.com/news-4578—5-5—.html even though they claim it to be from AFP. It is not on http://AFP.com .

So, either this story is a fake or Raul Castro wants it buried. Of course you’re not going to find this kind of news on Granma, right Anders?

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On November 18, 2007, anders wrote:

Rob.

HoHoHo, well probably not as Granma is not an event magazine ! But I will check around ! Who are the patrons of caribbeannetnews ?

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On November 18, 2007, publisher wrote:

Good question. Don’t know anything about them other than their public whois info  

Cayman Net Ltd
  85 North Sound Road
  Allista Towers
  Grand Cayman,  KY1-1006
  Cayman Islands

Odd that its not even on AFP site or ANY other news site.

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On November 18, 2007, anders wrote:

Rob,

I have checked most newspapers, newsagencies and governmental web- sites but not found anything aside of what you have found. On the other hand they are very slow with certain things so it doesn´t necesarilly mean anything.

The AFP notice is somewhat different from the caribnews version as far as so called insignificant details are concerned. Some of those suggests it is an actual event, Ibero-American cocktail talk f. i .

either or, this is the type of news we will here off and on from now on , I`m sure.
next year I predict it will be lots of it…....

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On November 18, 2007, anders wrote:

eeeh, Rob….

I only checked Cuban sources since I guessed you would cover the US…....

  didn´t make any difference ! 

    have a nice day !

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On November 18, 2007, HavanAndrew wrote:

If this is so, then it might explain some things that have been going on at Cubana. A couple of weeks ago when flying on Cubana I noticed that it was actually a TACA (Costa Rica/Guatemala, privately owned) with a smaller Cubana logo on the engine. This might be because of Washington not wanting Cuban planes flying in American airspace. I do recall hearing that the Airbus that Cubana used before was through an Irish leasing company. I have travelled on TACA for many years to Central and South America and when they flew from Toronto to Havana. They are a well run company and I think they would be a good match for Cuba.

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On November 18, 2007, HavanAndrew wrote:

A correction, TACA is a El Salvador based company, although I do recall when it started it included some wealthy families from Guatemala and Costa Rica. The company has just announced a large fleet purchase from the Brazilian airline company named Embraer.

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On November 18, 2007, publisher wrote:

Very interesting. I’ll have someone from a news source I know look into that angle.

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On November 18, 2007, manfredz wrote:

I didnt notice the logo on the Cubana flight I took Toronto- Havana, but believe it was the same Airbus 320 on the way back and that definitely had the TACA logo on the plane. (CU flight 180 and 181).  I had assumed that Cubana had leased the plane and were using their personnel but now not so sure.  Did notice when flight came into Toronto and deplaned before we could board, about 10 people came off in pilots/co-pilots etc uniforms so maybe some training is going on for new crew.  Did confirm from flight crew that plane flies over US airspace.

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On November 18, 2007, HavanAndrew wrote:

I did a little checking on airliners.net and the TACA- Cubana deal is a year old or so. Cubana has leased planes from several sources over the years including Air Canada. The Cubana plane pictures with the leased planes are generally Airbuses. They fly into Canadian airports and the Russian built planes fly to other countries and within Cuba. The Russian built planes would appear to be owned by Cubana as they don’t appear to have any other logos. I think if someone knows the regulations regarding Cuban planes flying in American air space we will know why the planes are being operated by other companies. It all works for me as I would not fly on a Cubana Russian built plane.

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On November 18, 2007, manfredz wrote:

I sem to recall reading that most Cubana flights from/to Europe are also useing Airbuses - If correct, probably because most people probably feel like you do in your last line, although i don’t think the main issue probably isnt where the plane is built but what kind of maintenance program is being followed and who does the maintenance.

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On November 21, 2007, anders wrote:

I have again checked Granma Daily , La Prensa and the Cuba Industry website and not found anything on this airplane stuff.
I t could be a hoax, of course but I think our joint speculations carried enough sence to suggest a wait and see attitude.
If there is anything material to it it will surface eventually. Juventud Rebelde sometimes reviels ongoing debates. If anyone notices something , please tell !

Anyho, I much appriciated the way our debate carried out. It signified much of what I have hoped for from this site. We assisted one another to a better understanding.