Inaugural flight JBU243 left Gate 21 at the airline’s Terminal 5 at JFK at 09:21, arriving to Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport Terminal 3 at 12:47, all local times. The flight was operated by a 190-seat Airbus A321 (N971JT • MSN 7390).
Tomorrow, JetBlue will start flights to Havana from Orlando, and on Wednesday from Fort Lauderdale.
“Our historic first flight kicked off a new era in travel to Cuba, and once again JetBlue will make history with flights that finally make flying to the Cuban capital simple, affordable and enjoyable,” Robin Hayes, president and chief executive officer, JetBlue said in a statement.
JetBlue’s maiden service from Fort Lauderdale to Santa Clara was the first regularly scheduled airline service between both countries in 50+ years. Before the thawing of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, special charter services, as well as relief and humanitarian flights were allowed only. JetBlue has long run charters to Cuba prior to commercial flights.
After JetBlue, Silver Airways, and American Airlines, Southwest became the fourth US carrier to launch scheduled commercial service to Cuba, with Delta, United, Spirit, Frontier, and Alaska Airlines next in the cue.
However, despite the recent increase in travel between both countries, travel restrictions for Americans remain in place, even though these have been eased.
Currently, travelers to Cuba must qualify under one of a dozen categories authorized by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which include family visits, government business, humanitarian projects and journalistic, educational or religious activities.