According to several media outlets, JetBlue Airways Corp. said it began direct charter flights between New York and Havana on Friday, the first major U.S. carrier to fly the route following U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision in December to normalize relations with the Communist-ruled island.
According to Fortune.com, the airline said Cuba Travel Services, Inc. is offering the weekly flight on Fridays between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport.
The flight was first announced in early May but the first sign that JetBlue was inching closer to becoming the first U.S. carrier to fly to Cuba was apparent in February when the airline announced plans to increase its charter services to Cuba with A320 aircraft.
The announcement was of a single charter flight added to JetBlue’s established service, but it signaled the airline's intent to capitalize on opportunities in the Caribbean market, including the recent warming of relations between Cuba and the United States.
JetBlue’s flights to Cuba are operated on the airline’s Airbus A320 aircraft, with 150 leather seats offering more legroom than competitors’ economy class, and 42 of which are configured as "Even More" seats giving passengers an extra four inches of space at the knees.
The new JetBlue charter flight was the first expansion in charter services by a major U.S. airline since restrictions on travel to Cuba were eased in January. Established by an agreement with ABC Charters, the service commenced on June 5, and will operated on Fridays from Tampa to Havana.