Delta returns to Cuba after 55-year hiatus
HAVANA - Delta on Thursday began regularly scheduled passenger service with nonstop daily flights from the US to Cuba. Flights will depart from Miami, New York-JFK and Atlanta to Havana as the airline makes its return to the Cuban capital for the first time in 55 years.
The airline is the only existing US carrier to previously operate passenger service until it was suspended in 1961 due to an unstable political climate and profitability challenges. Delta was also the last US carrier to exit the Cuban market with the suspension of its Havana to New Orleans service.
Delta Flight 625 was scheduled to depart Miami International Airport at 8:59 am and touch down at Havana’s José Martí International Airport just after 10 am, making it the first official regularly scheduled Delta passenger flight since service was suspended in December 1961.
Additionally, Delta Flight 448 from New York-JFK International Airport was scheduled to arrive just before noon and Delta’s Flight 639 from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was expected to arrive just before 1:30 pm.
“Today marks the resumption of service to a storied travel destination that has lacked a direct connection to the US for most of our lifetimes,” said Steve Sear, president – international and executive vice president – global sales. “We thank the authorities and officials who allowed us to resume passenger service and are proud of the Delta team who worked tirelessly this past year to add that dot back to our route maps after its absence for more than half a century.”
“We are pleased to welcome Delta Air Lines’ direct route from Atlanta to Cuba’s capital, solidifying Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport not only as the world’s busiest airport, but also the gateway to the world,” said Mayor Kasim Reed. “I had the unique privilege to conduct a trade mission to Cuba last year, along with several other government and business leaders in Georgia, where we explored opportunities for partnership in the airport management, logistics, food exports, information technology and tourism sectors. Atlanta is well-poised to serve as an important domestic partner to Cuba and this route will open several business and tourism opportunities.”
Delta is among eight carriers granted authority by the Department of Transportation to serve Havana, and it began selling flights from the US to Cuba in September. In early November, Delta became the first US airline to open a City Ticket Office in downtown Havana to support local tickets sales for Cubans traveling to the US Delta will offer almost 3,000 seats weekly between the US and Cuba.
Delta’s Havana service from Miami and New York links the two top cities with largest Cuban-American population, while Atlanta represents the largest connection point of passengers to Havana providing more than 150 US cities with one-stop access to Cuba from the world’s largest hub.
Delta’s History in Cuba
Delta inherited passenger service to Havana, Cuba, from its merger with Chicago and Southern Air Lines (C&S) on May 1, 1953, offering nonstop flights from New Orleans. Delta suspended service on December 6, 1961.
From 2002-2004 Delta operated charters between New York-JFK and Havana. In October 2011, Delta began operating up to a dozen charter flights to Havana per week with daily service from Miami and weekly service from Atlanta and New York-JFK. It operated almost 500 trips before suspending service on December 29, 2012. Most recently, Delta operated three ad hoc charter flights in 2015, including one that carried the Minnesota Orchestra back to Cuba for its first performance on the island in more than 85 years.