Tampa International Airport today inaugurated its 11th weekly flight to Cuba, with Cuba Travel Services beginning service to Havana on Sun Country Airlines.
TPA launched flights to Cuba in 2011 with two weekly flights. The airport now serves three Cuban cities: Havana, Holguin and Santa Clara. In addition to Sun Country, American Airlines and JetBlue also travel to Cuba.
The Tampa Bay area is home to the country’s third largest Cuban American population. The Cuba service from Tampa means those residents no longer have to go to Miami to reach the island destination. More than 90,000 passengers have taken advantage of the TPA’s Cuba flights in the past two years. Those flights have generated about $1.4 million for the airport in airline fees and passenger spending. The current schedule would generate another $1.4 million in the coming year.
The revenue figures were announced at a joint news conference Tuesday with Rep. Kathy Castor, who was instrumental in bringing the Cuba flights to Tampa.
“I want to congratulate the airport because obviously the new emphasis on marketing international travel is really paying off,” U.S. Rep Kathy Castor said. “I think Tampa International Airport is really on a roll, and that’s only going to benefit our local economy.”
The Cuban flights are an important part of Tampa International Airport’s efforts to increase international passenger traffic, which is nearly 30 percent higher than it was two years ago. Those numbers are expected to continue to grow with the start of four weekly flights to Panama beginning Dec. 17. Edelweiss Air is also extending its service and adding a second weekly flight to Zurich beginning in March.
“Every time we bring international tourists to this community, it means jobs,” Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano said. “It means they’re spending money at our hotels, they’re renting cars, the restaurants are full, the whole community benefits. Growing international flights is critical to our region.”
For more information on travel to Cuba, visit www.gotocuba.org.