14ymedio, Havana, 19 July 2023 — This Tuesday, 18 Cubans received some bad news. At Juan Gualberto Gómez de Varadero International Airport, passengers were unable to board the Condor airline flight to Frankfurt. In the German city, travelers would make a stopover to continue to Istanbul and later to Dubai, but they could not even complete the check-in process.
“We were told that the details of our second flight did not appear in the computer system,” one of the Cuban passengers who could not board the plane tells this newspaper. “Our first trip appeared on the computer without a problem, but since they didn’t manage to locate the second one, they didn’t even check us in,” said another traveler, on condition of anonymity.
“We paid more than 1,000 euros per person for a ticket. In my case I came from Santiago de Cuba, and now we don’t know what is going to happen to us, if they are going to return the money or reschedule the flight. Nobody says anything,” laments the man, who had to pay “more than 5,000 pesos for a private room” to stay one night in Varadero waiting for a solution.
Several crew members from the Condor flight, which took off at 10:45 at night, tried to intercede for the 18 Cubans and even “called Germany directly to solve the problem, but they couldn’t get the details of our second flight so they didn’t t allow us to board the plane,” he explained.
“We don’t understand the reason because we even have the reservation number and all the details of the second and third flights. Condor’s representatives told us that they couldn’t find the data. They didn’t even take our suitcases, and we never got to the boarding area,” he explains.
This Wednesday several of these travelers returned to the airport in search of answers, but so far no Condor employee has been able to tell them what will happen to their flights. “We have a 30-day tourism visa for Dubai, so there is no problem with that country. It’s outrageous that we haven’t been allowed to get on that plane.”
It’s not the first time that something like this has happened. Last November, a group of passengers who intended to travel to Belgrade from Varadero was rejected by Condor. Most were migrants who took advantage of the visa exemption that Serbia then provided to Cubans, to embark on the migratory route to countries in the European Union.
“We can confirm that on November 22, a total of 22 passengers were not accepted to board the plane from Varadero to Frankfurt, since we received information that their trip to Serbia was at risk as far as their entry into the country was concerned,” Magdalena Hauser, the airline’s director of communication, told this newspaper.
This year, despite the free visa in force until mid-April for Cubans, the situation of several groups of passengers from the Island who were not allowed to enter Serbian territory was also reported. They remained for days in overcrowded conditions at Belgrade international airport, and many were deported.
At the end of March, the consul and political advisor of the Serbian Embassy in Havana, Jelena Zivojinovic, confirmed to 14ymedio that from April 14, Cubans would need a tourism or work visa to travel to their country. The measure, aimed at containing illegal emigration, may be revoked “in the future” if the citizens of the Island “demonstrate” that they can travel to the Balkan nation and return to Cuba, the diplomat said at the time.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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