MIAMI – Alaska Airlines announced yesterday that it would launch a daily flight between Los Angeles (LAX) and Havana (HAV), starting on January 5, 2017.
As of today, this flight will be the only regular scheduled flight to Cuba from the West Coast of the United States. Havana will become the airline’s 22nd nonstop destination out of Los Angeles International Airport.
The flight from Los Angeles to Havana will leave at 08:50 and arrive at the Cuban capital at 16:55. The return flight will depart one hour later at 17:55 and land around 20:45 at Los Angeles. The flight times are optimized for easy connections in Los Angeles for customers flying from Anchorage and Seattle.
The new route will be flown on Alaska Airlines’ Boeing 737-900ERs, which offer 16 seats in First Class and 165 in Main Cabin.
Alaska joins other U.S. airlines that are also announcing new flights to Cuba. Earlier this month, JetBlue kicked off the first regular scheduled flights to Cuba in 50+ years, with an inaugural Fort Lauderdale – Santa Clara service, followed by Silver Airways and American Airlines, which started regular scheduled service from Miami to Cienfuegos and Holguin.
“This is a historic year for U.S. travelers, who can now fly to Cuba from the U.S. on scheduled commercial service for the first time in more than 50 years,” said Andrew Harrison, chief commercial officer at Alaska Airlines. “We’d like to thank the U.S. Department of Transportation for providing Alaska Airlines the opportunity to operate the only daily, nonstop flight from the West Coast to Cuba.”
The flights were awarded by the Department of Transportation back in July, however, they still need to be approved by Cuban aviation authorities.
“We are focused on strengthening our presence in the Los Angeles area, with daily service to 25 destinations from four area airports,” said Harrison. “With the addition of nonstop flights to and from two cities in Costa Rica last fall, and now Havana, we’ll offer up to 87 peak season weekly departures from Southern California to Latin America.”
U.S. citizens are currently not able to fly on U.S. based airlines to go visit Cuba for tourism purposes. They can only travel to the country if they fall into one of the 12 categories issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). These categories include family visits, educational activities, and public performances or exhibitions.
Alaska is currently working with Cuba Travel Services to help customers interested in visiting the country. The airline encourages customer to contact the travel service company for assistance in obtaining travel visas, hotel accommodation and ground transportation. “We are proud to build a new partnership with Alaska Airlines and excited to contribute in their efforts,” said Michael Zuccato, General Manager at Cuba Travel Services.