Last week, Air Caraïbes, the French regional airline for the Caribbean and Cubana de Aviacion, the national airline of Cuba, signed a formal accord to jointly operate flights. This landmark deal was hammered out in the midst of the 2016 IFTM Top Resa international travel industry show, a gathering of the biggest players in the tourism industry in Paris. The IFTM Top Resa trade show was an opportunity to increase awareness of Cuba’s tourism and build networks with related businesses.
The new agreement is a welcome development for the Cuban tourism industry. Air Caraïbes will offer flights for passengers from Paris Orly Sud to Havana José Marti and the Santiago de Cuba airports. The Air Caraïbes twice weekly flights to Cuba will offer first class, business class and economy fares. Service will begin December 9 of this year.
ACN reported that Lourdes Hermelo, Director of the Cubana office in Paris, explained that the agreement was the culmination of negociations started earlier this year. In April, the Cuban Institute of Civil Aeronautics and the General Department of Civil Aviation of France agreed to work towards greater cooperation. The current developments present a natural progression of this commitment.
Marc Rochet, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Air Caraïbes said, “Following the gradual opening of the Cuban skies, it was natural that Air Caraïbes is positioned in the Caribbean. We confirm our status as the first French private airline of the Caribbean arc. Finally, the signature of a code share agreement with Cubana Aviacion demonstrates the desire of the
company to develop the traffic in cooperation with the national operator.”
Mme. Hermelo, of Cubana airlines added, “We are particularly happy to have signed the trade agreement with Air Caraïbes, a well known French airline. The rotations thus proposed by our two companies will allow to develop, from Paris and the Caribbean, tourism in Cuba but also to increase the commercial and cultural exchanges between our two countries.”
Air Caraïbes was founded in 1969 but its current incarnation was only established in 2000 as a response to the need for flights between France and their territories in the Caribbean. It maintains a small fleet of 8 air crafts catering to 10 destinations in the region. It maintains a presence at the Pointe-a-Pitre International Airport, the Paris-Orly Airport, and the Martinique Aime Cesaire International Airport. The airline is owned by parent company Groupe Dubreuil and has headquarters in Les Abymes, Guadeloupe.
Cubana de Aviacion, on the other hand, was founded in 1929 as a subsidiary of Pan American World Airways. It was a private entity controlled by Cuban investors until 1959 when it became a government asset. Its hub is at the Jose Marti International Airport. Cubana maintains a fleet of 20 air crafts serving about 20 destinations. A long-term renovation program has enabled it to modernize with new generation Russian airliners. It also has Airbus and Boeing planes. The flag carrier is also known as Cuba’s Gateway to the World. It is owned by Corporacion de la Aviacion Civil S.A. or CACSA with headquarters in Havana.
With the agreement between Air Caraïbes and Cubana, it will be possible to increase the number of tourists coming in from France and the rest of Europe without any pressures on Cubana to expand its fleet. The two airlines can share resources including vital information to improve services to their customers for flights to Cuba.