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Montevideo, December 4th 2021 - 14:39 UTC

 

 

Cubana de Aviación to return to Argentina next month but domestic air services stay grounded

Monday, October 25th 2021 - 22:24 UTC
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Cubana is facing serious trouble keeping ageing Soviet-era units in the air Cubana is facing serious trouble keeping ageing Soviet-era units in the air

Cuba's flag carrier Cubana de Aviación has announced it would resume flight between Havana and Buenos Aires starting Nov. 20. The airline will also offer a weekly service to Cayo Coco as of Dec. 27.

These flamboyant international plans came a week after the company had to admit it could not longer serve most of its domestic routes as most of its aircraft were grounded due to lack of funding for their maintenance.

Argentine tourists have long chosen Cuba for their holidays and the Cuban community in the South American country has increased over the years, making the air link vital to both ends of the route, it was reported.

Cayo Coco has had a direct link with Argentina for three decades. In 2019, Cubana de Aviación transported 13,560 passengers between Buenos Aires and Cuba, of whom 8,530 ended up in Cayo Coco and the rest flew on to Havana (HAV).

Tickets to Cayo Coco will be available in November, the carrier has said.

The Cuban Government has also explained foreigners will not need to go through a PCR test, so long as they have proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Those not vaccinated do need to take a PCR test from 72 hours or less prior to departure. In addition, random tests will be carried out among those who enter the country. Travelers will also be required to purchase international health insurance.

Last week, Cubana announced domestic flights would continue to be canceled as ground transport services (mainly buses) were to be used instead, as Cubana could not keep its short-range aircraft operational.

Luis Ladrón de Guevara, general director of Transportation and Passages of the Ministry of Transportation (MITRANS), said that after months dedicated to work on the COVID-19 pandemic, the local authorities were “preparing travel agencies, terminals, computerized reservation and sales systems,” for the National Omnibus Company, while the Cuban Railroad Union was implementing a strict protocol for technical maintenance and cleaning of the formations.

Regarding Cubana de Aviación, Guevara said that “the technical availability of the fleet is not a secret that it is affected, it has been very limited in the acquisition of parts to keep the aircraft in flight.”

Cubana de Aviación has had dissimilar operational problems for years, including a lack of aircraft and an aging fleet of uniuts built mostly in the former USSR and with decades of service.

To maintain domestic flights, the Cuban company has had to lease foreign aircraft and crew. The May 18, 2018 accident of the Mexican-registered Global Air flight on the Havana-Holguín route on behalf of Cubana which resulted in 112 fatalities was the deadliest in the history of the island's civil aviation.

Cubana had been leasing aircraft from Spain's Plus Ultra to fly to Europe because those of the island's airline do not meet the requirements to operate in the European space.

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