14ymedio, Havana, 1 December 2023 — Following the warning from the United States about the sanctions it will impose on airlines that encourage the migration of Cubans through Nicaragua, Aruba Airlines suspended its connection between Havana and Managua. The company, from the Venezuelan capital, was one of the only two – along with Conviasa – that maintained flights between the two countries after other airlines, such as Air Century and Sky High canceled their routes.
Although Aruba Airlines has not issued any official statement, a journalist from the Telemundo news channel said on Wednesday that travel agencies that marketed flights on the company’s planes stopped offering the tickets corresponding to the Cuba-Nicaragua connection. As they explained, only those who had already bought their tickets before the cancellation of the route will be able to travel.
Except for companies that make flights between Managua and Havana with a stopover in a third country, such as the Mexican Viva Aerobus or Aeroméxico, Conviasa is the only one that has ignored the U.S. warning and continues to maintain flight frequencies between the two countries.
On November 21, the United States Government announced that it would impose a visa restriction policy
On November 21, the United States Government announced that, in order to control the entry of Cubans through its border with Mexico, it would impose a visa restriction policy on owners and senior officials of airlines that operate charter flights between Cuba and Nicaragua, the first step in a long trajectory that has become a lucrative business for both the regimes of the region and for human traffickers.
According to the Department of State, these airlines have been selling tickets at “extortionate” prices (up to $4,000 per person for a trip from Havana to Managua) to migrants who lack legal conditions to enter or stay in U.S. territory – the goal of their trip – and who, many times, end up facing deportation processes.
Three days after the announcement, several airlines connecting Cuba with Nicaragua began to suspend their charter flights. This is the case of Air Century and Sky High, which canceled all the operations that were scheduled for the coming months.
A month earlier, the Government of Haiti had reported the ban on flights between Port-au-Prince and Managua, a common route among Haitians who, like Cubans, intend to reach the United States. It is not known, however, if there were secret negotiations between Washington and the Haitian authorities to stop the flow of migrants.
On the other hand, the Cuban ambassador to Russia, Julio Garmendia, reported on Thursday that there is an agreement between the two countries to establish a route between St. Petersburg and Cayo Coco (Ciego de Ávila), as well as between Havana and Moscow, at the end of the year.
“At the end of December it is planned to resume Aeroflot’s direct trips, carried out by the Rossiya airline, between the capitals of both countries, as well as one every ten days from St. Petersburg to Cayo Coco,” he said.
The diplomat’s announcement responds to the agreement between Havana and Moscow to boost Russian tourism on the Island
The diplomat’s announcement responds to the agreement between Havana and Moscow to boost Russian tourism on the Island, which so far has not yielded all the fruits that both governments expected.
For its part, the Spanish company Iberojet will stop flying to Havana in 2024. As confirmed by an employee of the company to 14ymedio, they will have no connection with the Island from next January 15, and they do not know when they will resume operations. However, they will open two routes to Santa Clara, the same source explained, from Madrid and from Lisbon, but “beginning next summer.”
The airline already canceled its Madrid-Santiago de Cuba route last September, just a year after inaugurating it, but, on this occasion, it is a measure that will take place in the middle of the high season, which evidences the debacle of foreign tourism on the Island.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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