If regularly scheduled air service gets underway anytime soon between the U.S. and Cuba, some 1.5 million U.S. passengers a year would make the trip, according to Ambassador Jose R. Cabanas, chief of the U.S. Cuban Interests Section.  

He noted that since the U.S. announcement in December that it would seek to normalize relations, travel to Cuba has jumped, not only from the U.S. but by double digit percentages from Canada, Germany, France, the U.K. and Italy.  In the first quarter of 2015 passenger travel to Cuba has increased 15%, Cabanas said during a speech to the International Aviation Club of Washington D.C. Cuban authorities have been working with Airlines for America  (A4A) to create the right framework for regularly scheduled flights. 

Cabanas noted that Cuban aviation authorities and the TSA have been working together for years to ensure that airport security at Cuban airports meets U.S. standards.  While scheduled U.S.-Cuba airline service does not yet exist, there is a flourishing charter airline business between the two countries. 

Cabanas said there at 10 daily charter flights between Miami and Havana alone.  In 1953 the U.S. and Cuba signed a bilateral agreement. Despite the tensions of the last 55 years, neither nation has rescinded that bilateral.  

Of particular interest was Cabanas’s comment that more congressmen and senators from the United States visit Cuba on information gathering trips than any other Latin American country. He said that was true even before the President Barack Obama’s December 17 announcement on changing U.S.-Cuba relations.