14ymedio, Havana, 22 September 2020 — Until the end of July, with the borders closed, 5,347 Cubans had returned to the island in 84 flights from 54 countries not detailed in the official press, which this Monday congratulated themselves for the “collective work” that has made it possible.
With the closure of the borders, at the end of March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, many travelers who were stranded had to extend their stay or turn to humanitarian or repatriation flights to return to their countries of residence.
Cubans residing in other countries must present a permit from the Directorate of Identification, Immigration and Aliens, while foreigners must appear at their respective consulates to find out about the conditions of their repatriation.
Despite good diplomatic relations between Mexico and Cuba, especially since the victory at the polls of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, it is surprising that no repatriated flight has been organized in these months.
At the moment, as confirmed by this newspaper with several travel agencies, humanitarian flights arrive empty in Havana to pick up travelers who were stranded on the island. “We do not have Cancun-Havana or Havana-Cancun flights. We are waiting for the approval of one by the Cuban authorities, which may be delayed since Cuba is closed for new arrivals,” the Mexican company Vagamundos explained to 14ymedio.
The large community of Cubans in Mexico is waiting for the resumption of commercial flights, and Mexicans stranded on the island have had to go on those organized by Viva Aerobus. The Mexican company chartered a first plane on August 30 from Havana to Cancun but it was canceled at the last minute. In June, the same company managed to triangulate a route between Mexico, Cuba and Nicaragua to facilitate the exceptional transfers of citizens stranded in the three countries.
The next scheduled flights from Cuba will have Miami as their final destination and customers who want to get off in Cancun have had to pay the full ticket, which costs almost double the ticket passengers bought for the August 30 Cancun flight. Some customers, who had their money returned for last month’s cancellation, confess to this newspaper that until they see each other on the plane, they don’t trust it will fly.
The Havana-Cancun flight “is not sold separately, however, if a passenger wishes to stay in Mexico, he can do so because, although he paid for the flight to Miami, an American visa is not required if he gets off in Cancun,” said Vagamundos.
The humanitarian flights organized by Havana have suffered multiple cancellations and date changes. Some that have been suspended had as their final destination Bogotá, Quito or Madrid.
Iberia Airlines, however, has been one of the few that has regularly maintained humanitarian flights between Havana and Madrid. Every Sunday in September a plane has left from the Cuban capital as has been confirmed by the Embassy of Spain on its social networks. In addition, the airline announced that it will maintain the same frequency in October.
The flights arrive in Havana without travelers and return to the Spanish capital with students, relatives of Spanish residents and other people who already had a visa, according to Directorio Cubano.
There have also been frequent connections in recent months between Cuba and the United States. On October 17, a humanitarian flight is scheduled to leave Havana bound for Miami, which is being handled by DimeCuba Travel, according to the company.
The US Embassy in Havana communicates through its social networks the humanitarian operations that it manages for American citizens stranded on the Island and has announced that it continues “to explore all the options to face the current interruptions in travel.”
For its part, the Vagamundos travel agency confirmed to this newspaper that in the remainder of the month and throughout October, two weekly flights from Havana will arrive in Miami — on Wednesdays and Saturdays — for citizens of the United States, residents in that country, and foreigners looking to have connecting flights in Florida.
All those flights of the Mexican airline Viva Aerobus, which make a three-hour stopover in Cancun, are full until October 17.
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