Cuban Americans

Tampa to Havana flights to Cuba? Rep Kathy Castro wants to see them

Posted March 03, 2009 by publisher in Cuban Americans.

By TED JACKOVICS | The Tampa Tribune

Tampa International Airport could become the fourth U.S. airport to serve U.S.-Cuba charter flights under a request by U.S. Rep Kathy Castor, D-Tampa.

In a Feb. 3 letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Castor said the move would improve travel prospects for thousands of Bay area Cuban-Americans.

Those who qualify under U.S. restrictions to visit Cuba from the United States must fly from Miami, New York or Los Angeles.

Castor said she has called on President Obama to fulfill his campaign promise to lift travel restrictions on Cuban-Americans wishing to visit family members in Cuba.

“With this anticipated move, the number of U.S. travelers to Cuba is expected to nearly triple from the current 10,000 per month to nearly 30,000 per month,” Castor wrote.

That would increase direct air charter flights from the United States to Cuba from three to about eight to 10 a day, she said.

“In their quest to travel to Cuba to say goodbye or comfort a loved one, they are subjected to the worst kind of bureaucratic red tape because of the restrictions,” Castor wrote. “The addition of Tampa International Airport as a departure point could be one less burden the families would have to face.”

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved language that would allow Cuban-Americans to visit relatives on the island more frequently and also ease some restrictions on trade with Cuba.

Under one of the measure’s provisions, family members could visit Cuba once a year rather than once every three years.

Reporter Ted Jackovics can be reached at (813) 259-7817 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Member Comments

On March 04, 2009, abh wrote:

Was that a fruedian slip on the name of US Rep Kathy CastOR?

On May 08, 2009, publisher wrote:

Jane Meinhardt Staff Writer

Tampa International Airport officials are in discussions with charter businesses licensed for flights to Cuba in anticipation of receiving federal approval to become one of four airports authorized for travel to Cuba.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, has dogged federal officials since mid-April in an effort to add Tampa as a departure point.

Castor has written Timothy Geithner, secretary of the treasury, and Gary Locke, Department of Commerce secretary, requesting designation of Tampa International as an airport authorized to provide nonstop Cuban air charter service.

Castor noted in the letters, copies of which were sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, that census data shows the Tampa area has 67,000 Cuban-Americans, the fifth largest population of Cuban-Americans.