Reestablishment Of Tampa As Historic Gateway to Cuba
Tampa International Airport has been given the green light to
accept flights to and from Cuba. The Airport has received its
official approval Monday from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to
operate Cuba flights.
TPA becomes the next gateway to Cuba in the U.S. following Los
Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK) and Miami (MIA). Three licensed
charter operators have formally indicated their intention to
provide service to Cuba from Tampa which includes Air MarBrisa,
Island Travel & Tours, Ltd., and ABC Charter.
The State of Florida, by U.S. Census statistics, has the largest
Cuban-American population in the entire nation and the Tampa Bay
service area is ranked second in the nation only to the Miami-Dade
County service area.
“I wish to thank the President and his administration for
allowing more points of entry into Cuba. The flights of course will
assist economic development for both sides. But more importantly,
the new policies will better enable the tens of thousands of Cuban
Americans in our City to reunite with their families whom they may
not have seen for decades,” stated Steven Burton, Vice
Chairman, Tampa International Airport.
“The Cuba service reflects our vision of Tampa
International Airport which is motivated by our commitment to the
Tampa Bay community – keeping the needs and desires of our
customers at the forefront of our air service initiatives,”
stated Joe Lopano, CEO, Tampa International Airport.
The modified travel restrictions to Cuba state
“purposeful” travel. Passengers must have close
relatives in Cuba or must be involved in medical and
agriculture business sectors; or traveling for education and
religious activities. The Airport expects to offer flights by
summer or early fall.
"Tampa International Airport has received US government
approval, but there is more work to be done," said Tampa Chamber of
Commerce Cuba Flights Committee co-chair Jose Valiente. "Now we
need to establish regular air service and help Cuban-Americans and
businesses learn about the advantages of flying to Cuba through
Tampa International Airport."
Tampa's relationship with Cuba dates back to 1539 when Hernando
de Soto sailed from Cuba to Tampa Bay. As early as the 17th
century, Cuban fisherman would frequent the Tampa Bay area on a
seasonal basis, and, over time, the maritime connection became well
established. In the 1850s Captain James McKay established regular
commercial shipping service from Florida to Cuba through Tampa. In
the 1880s Cuban immigrants established Tampa's Ybor City
neighborhood as the cigar capital of the United States. On November
26, 1891 Jose Marti delivered his famous "Con Todos y Para el Bien
de Todos" speech in Tampa. According to the 2009 American Community
Survey, the Tampa Bay region today is home to approximately 91,516
Cuban-Americans, the third largest population of its kind in the