Air Transport World

Air-traffic boom in Cuba.

Once the jewel of the Caribbean and the first island of the region to jump on the international tourism bandwagon in the 1920s, Cuba is quietly but firmly back on track. With its gradual return to the center stage of international leisure travel, it is enjoying a significant air traffic boom, with rises between 15% and 25% every year for the last five, according to figures by officers of Cubana de Aviacion. It is estimated to continue to the year 2005.

Just a few years ago, only 14 international carriers were flying into Cuba. Now, Cubana faces no fewer than 37 international competitors, with the number and frequency increasing. LACSA, of Costa Rica, for example, started a weekly San Jose-Havana Boeing 737-300 service in late 1993, added a second frequency last year and is flying three now. LTU flew three L-1011 charters a week from Germany in the November, 1994-April, 1995 holiday season. It will go up to four next season. Its TriStar seats 288 but two of the new frequencies will be operated by MD-11s seating 409.

While carriers flew into just Havana and Varadero--the world-famous resort town--in the recent past, they are crossing the Atlantic from Europe straight into new leisure destinations such as Holguin, Camaguey and Santiago. …

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