For now, the only people who can take the flights, which cost $525 round trip, are Cuban citizens and those with special permission from the U.S. government.
Isaac Valdez of Mambi International, the Miami based charter company that handles the travel arrangements, said a Key West flight is important for Cuban Americans living in the Florida Keys. “Now they don’t have to drive up to Miami four hours and then wait four hours at the airport", said Valdez. "Now they can come to Key West, wait two hours, and just take off to Cuba.” Key West City Commissioner Tony Yaniz, who was born in Cuba, was hoping to take today’s flight but business intervened. “I’m looking forward to going soon", Yaniz said. "I mean, I’ve got cousins in Cuba I haven’t seen in 54 years.”
Yaniz said he looks forward to a time when anyone can hop on a flight in Key West and land in Havana half an hour later. “I think the day is coming soon when we’re going to be able to see people going over to Cuba – no politics, just regular vacation”, said Yaniz.