Submitted by ub on Wed, 05/06/2015 - 18:32

US government has approved the first ferry service in decades between the United States and Cuba, opening a new path for the hundreds of thousands of people and hundreds of millions of dollars in goods that travel between US and Cuba. The New York metropolitan area has the second largest Cuban-American population in the United States, second to Miami.

Baja Ferries received a license from the U.S. Treasury Department, along with Havana Ferry Partners, United Caribbean Lines and Airline Brokers. However, there is no announcement from officials in Cuba.

More than 600,000 people who travel between the U.S. and Cuba each year depend on expensive charter flights. About 80 percent of U.S .travelers to Cuba are Cuban-Americans visiting relatives, and a large number travel with huge amounts of consumer goods unavailable in communist Cuba, from baby clothes to flat-screen TV sets. That cargo has become increasingly expensive and difficult to bring in recent years due to the high prices charged by charters and tightened Cuban customs rules.

Before Cuba's 1959 revolution, transportation was available daily between US and Cuba, bringing American tourists to Havana's hotels and casinos and allowing Cubans to take overnight shopping trips to the United States.

Although they are not Jet Blue flights, charter groups organized through CUBA TRAVEL SERVICES have announced flights to CUBA, according to Jet Blue spokesman Morgan Johnston, Manager for Corporate Communications.

However, he told CITY IMAGES that these new flights from New York to Havana, Cuba makes JetBlue the first major carrier to announce a new flight to Cuba from New York since travel restrictions were recently eased.

Cuba Travel Services is offering the flight, operated by JetBlue, on Fridays from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Havana’s José Martí International Airport beginning July 3, 2015. Travelers should make arrangements directly with Cuba Travel Services

Cuba Travel Services, a leading authorized carrier service provider, believes expanding its flight network will provide licensed travelers more travel options for a lower cost. The additional service offers customers additional options to travel to Cuba from New York without connection delays or extra domestic travel expenses to connect in Florida.

JetBlue will serve all charter flights to Cuba on its Airbus 150-seat A320, and will offer free Fly-Fi; complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic/soft drinks; free DIRECTV® SiriusXM® Radio. The Cuban people are beginning to realize what they've been missing for all these years.

With the addition to the New York-Havana flight, JetBlue will operate five weekly round trips to Cuba, including flights from Tampa (TPA) and Fort Lauderdale (FLL) with various charter partners. Cuba will one day play an important role in JetBlue’s overall Caribbean network.