-- Initiative Backed by Congresswoman Barbara Lee Offers Potential for Charter Passenger Service to and from OAK and Cuba --
Oakland, Calif.—June 8, 2011— Oakland International Airport (OAK) requested and received authorization by United States Customs and Border Protection to offer nonstop charter passenger service between the Bay Area and Cuba. It is the only Bay Area airport to hold the designation, and flights to Cuba from OAK will be the first to bridge the Bay Area and the small island nation of Cuba.
OAK has partnered with California-based travel company Cuba Travel Services (CTS). CTS expects to begin offering charters for sale to the public beginning in late-summer for flights commencing as soon as year-end 2011. “We expect the demand for travel to Cuba from the Bay Area to increase substantially over the next year and CTS is poised and honored to bridge Oakland, California and Havana, Cuba,” said Michael Zuccato, General Manager of CTS, who is also a native of Pleasanton, Calif.
Congresswoman Lee, who has been a catalyst for the effort to increase ties between the Bay Area and Cuba, noted the significance of this announcement: “This new charter is another important step in moving beyond the outdated policies of the past and turning to a new, productive page in U.S.-Cuba relations and hopefully will lead to more travel and exchange with Cuba. I have always believed that people-to-people diplomacy is the one of the most effective ways for strengthening ties between two nations. I am hopeful that today’s announcement will lead to many more Bay Area residents taking advantage of the opportunity to directly engage with the Cuban people.”
“We applaud President Barack Obama and our congressional leadership for loosening restrictions and facilitating U.S. travel between the Bay Area and the beautiful Caribbean island of Cuba,” said Port Board President James Head. “Offering regular air service eliminates borders and enables Cuban-Americans, businesses and organizations with purposeful travel from the Bay Area to fly to Cuba through Oakland International Airport.”
“The Bay Area is home to many world class universities as well as community organizations that will benefit from this approval,” said Deborah Ale Flint, Director of Aviation for the Port of Oakland. “We are pleased to be the San Francisco Bay Area’s designated airport to offer easy access to and from Cuba,” she continued.
The decision to allow airports to schedule flights to and from Cuba is part of a broad effort to reach out to the Cuban people for academic, religious, humanitarian and news-gathering purposes as announced by President Obama in January of 2011. Prior to this, charter flights to the island nation were only allowed from Los Angeles, Miami and New York/JFK.
About Cuba Travel Services: Cuba Travel Services, Inc. (CTS) currently charters 10 flights a week between the US and Cuba and is licensed by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control as an authorized Carrier (and Travel) Service Provider (CSP, TSP) specializing in travel to Cuba. CTS provides full service travel arrangements to authorized individuals and groups, including people visiting relatives, religious organizations, licensed educational and people to people travelers, professionals doing research, competitions and others traveling under a Specific or General License issued by the U.S. Treasury Department. Visit cubatravelservices.com for more information.
About the Port of Oakland and Oakland International Airport: The Port of Oakland oversees the Oakland seaport, Oakland International Airport and 20 miles of waterfront. The Oakland seaport is the fifth busiest container port in the U.S.; Oakland International Airport is the second largest San Francisco Bay Area airport and fourth largest airport in California, offering over 300 daily passenger and cargo flights; and the Port’s real estate includes commercial developments such as Jack London Square and hundreds of acres of public parks and conservation areas. The Port of Oakland was established in 1927 and is an independent department of the City of Oakland. Visit portofoakland.com and oaklandairport.com. Facebook / Oakland International Airport.
Rosemary Barnes – Oakland International Airport
510-563-2892 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Elyzza Cabezas – Cuba Travel Services