Commercial air service resumes after 55 years
WASHINGTON, D.C - President of Engage Cuba, James Williams, released the following statement on the day of the first U.S. commercial flight to Cuba in over five decades, JetBlue flight 387 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Santa Clara, Cuba:
“Today marks a turning point in U.S. relations with Cuba as cheaper and easier commercial flights now make travel to Cuba an option for that many more Americans. But more importantly, today marks a turning point in the relations between the American and the Cuban people. As more and more Americans visit our island neighbor and talk to everyday Cubans, the more Americans will see that the embargo is just an outdated relic of the Cold War era,” said President of Engage Cuba, James Williams. “I think many Americans will be surprised to learn that even with the restoration of scheduled flights, U.S. law still prevents Americans from traveling to Cuba for tourist purposes. This is inconsistent with our values as a free society and has stifled economic growth in Cuba. We hope that as U.S. travel to Cuba continues to skyrocket with scheduled flights, momentum will only continue to grow for Congress to pass the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act, bipartisan legislation that would lift the travel ban on Cuba.”
Following the reestablishment of diplomatic relations and the easing of travel restrictions, in 2015-2016 alone, U.S. travel to Cuba nearly doubled. With the restoration of scheduled flights, that number is expected to increase sharply.
On June 16, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to include an amendment to lift the travel ban in a must-pass FY 2017 appropriations bill. The amendment was offered by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS). The Senate legislation, the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act now has over 50 bipartisan co-sponsors. More information on that legislation is available here.
About Engage Cuba
Engage Cuba is the leading coalition of private companies and organizations working to end the travel and trade embargo on Cuba. As a 501(c)(4) bipartisan non-profit whose funds are entirely dedicated to advocacy efforts, Engage Cuba is the only organization whose focus is U.S.-Cuba legislative advocacy. Engage Cuba is also committed to supporting the Cuban people and helping organizations and businesses navigate Cuban and U.S. regulations. The organization has the largest bipartisan lobbying operation working on U.S.-Cuba policy. Together with the Engage Cuba Policy Council of renowned experts, Engage Cuba provides timely updates on opportunities for U.S. business in Cuba, regulations, and market analysis. To get involved with Engage Cuba’s mission or learn more, visit: http://www.engagecuba.org.