US airline expands trips to Cuba despite the restrictions

An airline that opened the first commercial route between the US and Cuba two years ago expands connectivity despite the critical moment of relations between the two countries and a decline in American tourism on the island.

The US airline JetBlue opened its Havana-Boston route on Saturday with an airplane with over 120 passengers on board landed at the José Martí airport, where he was greeted with flags from both countries.

"From day one we have been willing to commit ourselves to this island in the long term," Giselle Cortés, Director of JetBlue International Airport, told The Associated Press. "We were the only airline (airline) that did not cancel any route, but we add Havana today to Boston."

Commercial aviation operations began in 2016, after the US and Cuba resumed their diplomatic relations in 2014, and after the permits issued by the then presidents Barack Obama extended the categories of reasons that Americans could claim to go to the # 39; island.

However, a few months later, his successor Donald Trump took a radical turn in politics towards Cuba by increasing the sanctions – even though he has not been revoked since 1960 – and limiting the permits for the arrival of the Americans.

The justification for the voyage to the island is a requirement imposed on Americans who can not go to Cuba simply as tourists and must declare that their trip is due to academic or religious reasons, among others.

Thanks to Trump's policy, American travel began to decline in the last year.

A report from the Cuban authorities indicated that, in the first quarter of 2018, American arrivals fell by 43%, about 51,000 fewer visitors than in the same period of 2017.

In 2017, 619,000 US citizens visited Cuba, while 453.905 Cubans residing in the United States traveled to the island, especially to see their relatives.

Some companies that started their operations with difficulty in 2016 have subsequently withdrawn or reduced their frequencies and there have even been reports of practically empty aircraft.

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