Having become one of the planets most in vogue places for politicians, economists, business people and world culture and fashion personalities, an increase in the number of airline companies flying state of the art aircraft to Cuba comes as no surprise.

The 1.3 million international visitors who arrived between January and March ratified the position of Cuba in the growing number of eyes --some of which had previously been turned away -- looking in her direction, because now everybody is interested in the economic, political, diplomatic and social role played by her people, not to mention her enthralling natural and historical riches.

Having become one of the planets most in vogue places for politicians, economists, business people and world culture and fashion personalities, an increase in the number of airline companies flying state of the art aircraft to Cuba comes as no surprise.In keeping with the fast growing number of visitors of all kind, the number of international air connections to foreign nations, operated presently by 47 Latin American, North American, European, Asian and African civil aviation airline companies is also on the rise.

Mayda Molina, director of Air Transport and International Relations at the Cuban Civil Aeronautical Institute (IACC in Spanish) told The Havana Reporter that this meant all of Cuba’s 10 international airports were dealing with high traffic volumes because a number of companies have, such as Copa who now fly seven days has, increased flight frequency.

She recalled in this regard that last year also saw Air China launch a direct Beijing-Havana flight with a Toronto stopover, the first to connect the Asian Giant to the Caribbean.

The Iberia decision to re-commence operations was equally significant. It then increased passenger capacity by almost 30% by raising the number of flights from five to six per week from December and to once a day from June 2.

Iberia flights to Havana connect Madrid airport with 100 European, Middle Eastern, African and Asian which, according to company officials, facilitates the carriage of a greater number of tourists and benefits trans-Atlantic business opportunities.

A recently signed memorandum of understanding facilitates the re-opening of direct passenger, postal and cargo flights between Cuba and the U.S. and also marks the start of a new phase of the rapprochement between the two countries.

Molina Martínez explained that these advances form part of more than 80 such bilateral governmental level air transport accords, characterized by an equality of opportunity for the airlines on both sides that demonstrate a notable emphasis on reciprocity.

She pointed out that these documents regulated flight, frequency, security precepts, scope and stop-over parameters and future document modifications for the companies that will operate, because they form the legal basis for regular and systematic air links between both sides.

There are also, in addition to measures against illicit interference, terrorism and threats of any other nature, specific conventions on security that relate to technical and operational issues.

The IACC official considers these benefits equivalent to scheduled passenger, postal and cargo traffic to and from any part of the world and a conduit for trade and other types of interaction between people, that will also translate into enhanced links between Cuba and the rest of the world.

The first months of 2016 are notable for the continuity of the growth in all of Cuba’s international relations sectors; increased visits and participation by foreigners in business delegations, events, meetings and congresses. This participation benefited from, to quote just a few examples, visits to Havana by President Barack Obama, the Tampa Rays baseball team and the concert performance by The Rolling Stones.

The impressive 1.3 million international visitor numbers, up 15% on the same period last year, indicates that negotiations on aeronautical related issues will increase as a result of this new scenario.

Molina Martinez said that this is the case with previous accords signed with both Costa Rica and Ecuador and the German airline Condors direct link between Munich and Havana, as part of an increase in the frequency of their flights to the Island from June 4 next.

The 13 North American companies that have secured Department of Transport permits to offer direct flights from 20 U.S. cities can be added to the above.

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