Flight Cancellations Between Cuba and Nicaragua Begin After the New U.S. Measures

Cubans in line to check in on an Air Century flight at José Martí International Airport. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mexico, November 24, 2023 — Several airlines connecting Cuba with Nicaragua began suspending their charter flights three days after the U.S. announced penalties for airlines that cover that route. A source from a Miami-based travel agency, which markets tickets between the Island and the Central American country, confirmed to 14ymedio this Friday that for the moment, the only airlines connecting the two nations are Conviasa and Aruba Airlines, while Air Century and Sky High canceled all operations that were scheduled for the coming months.

Representatives of Air Century reaffirmed to Telemundo 51 that this company will no longer fly the commercial route, widely used by migrants from the Island to make the crossing to the southern border of the United States.

On Tuesday, the State Department explained that charter airlines have been selling tickets at “extortionate” prices to those who use Nicaragua as a route to access Mexico’s northern border.

“My world fell apart today. They already canceled my flight twice, and this time it was for real”

The penalty consists of the ineligibility for a visa to the U.S. of “owners, executives and/or senior officials of companies that offer charter flights to Nicaragua” protected by the Immigration and Nationality Act, which establishes that people who carry out activities sanctioned by the U.S. Government cannot enter the country.

Air Century, according to the source who works at a Miami travel agency, “is organizing a few rescue flights to get people out who were going to fly from Cuba in the few days left of November.”

“My world fell apart today. They already canceled my flight twice, and this time it was for real,” a Cuban resident on the Island who intended to travel with Air Century soon, told Telemundo 51. Her flight was canceled in the middle of this week. The woman’s only hope was to be transferred by the agency where she bought the ticket to another airline.

Days before the Biden Administration announced the visa restriction for the operators of these flights, two U.S. officials warned that the measure was being prepared. One of them was Eric Jacobstein, deputy undersecretary of the Office of Western Hemisphere Affairs, who said that the Government was “aware of these reports about an increase in charter flights arriving in Nicaragua from several countries, and we believe that no one should take advantage of the desperation of vulnerable migrants.”

Between 2021 and 2023, more than 425,000 Cubans arrived at the southern border of Mexico, on their way to the United States. The route through Nicaragua has facilitated the avoidance of an even worse route, the one that involved crossing the Darién jungle, between Colombia and Panama, which many took in the previous migration crisis of 2015.

Translated by Regina Anavy 


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.