September 2, 2011
By Ted Jackovics, Tampa Bay Online
TAMPA - The inaugural charter flights from Tampa International Airport to Havana next week are sold out, airport officials said today, but reservations are available for flights later in the month.
Two services are scheduled to fly weekly round-trips between Tampa and Cuba, XAEL Charters using SkyKing Airlines aircraft on Thursdays and ABC Charters with American Airlines aircraft on Saturdays.
A third charter service, Island Travel & tours, Ltd., plans Tampa-Havana flights beginning in October.
The flights restore air service between Tampa and Cuba discontinued 50 years ago after Cuba-U.S. political relations soured.
Cuba-U.S. charter air service has been allowed in recent years from Miami, New York and Los Angeles.
Tampa International is one of eight in the United States and one in Puerto Rico that gained government permission for Cuban charter flights this year.
On Tuesday, representatives of the three charter services, a dozen travel agencies and the airport will gather in Ybor City to provide the public with flight information. The program from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. is at The Cuban Club at 2010 Avenida Republica de Cuba.