SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–Cuban national airline company Cubana de Aviación will offer nonstop flights between Cuba and Costa Rica starting on November 16th, the airline confirmed to Cuban media this week. The carrier dropped the route in August 2008 in order to code share the flight with TACA. But the airline will reopen the flight as part of an objective to boost tourism between the two countries. “We will offer two weekly flights on Thursday and Sunday departing from Havana in the mornings. The flights will last two hours and thirty minutes,” said Walfredo Riverón Rodríguez, corporate communications director. Flights will have a capacity of 85 passengers, operated with modern Antonov AN-158. Tickets for the route are already available at travel agencies and on the airline’s website, Riverón said. “The route will offer a great opportunity to expand ties between Central American and Caribbean countries and for developing multi-destination routes in the area,” he added. Data from the Costa Rican Tourism Board showed that only 3,372 travelers visited from Cuba last year.
LA HABANA, Cuba– On April 18th, the brand new Cubana de Aviacion Antonov An-158 arrived at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana. The first of six Ukranian airliners the Cuban flag carrier has purchased for its flights to the Caribbean and Central America. “Now Cubana doesn’t have to lease airliners that might be subject to the Embargo Law applied by the United States of America against Cuba”, declared Ricardo Santillan, the Vicepresident of Cuba’s Civil Aviation Institute. The first destinations will be Santiago de Cuba, Cancun, Managua, San Jose, Guatemala City and Santo Domingo. The An-158 is a regional jet aircraft designed by the Ukrainian Antonov Design Bureau and produced by Ukraine’s Kiev Aviation Plant AVIANT. Antonov has also outsourced production to Russia’s Voronezh Aircraft Production Association. Development of the plane was started in the 1990s, and the maiden flight of the first version (An-148) took place on December 2004 The plane completed its certification programme on February 2007. The An-158 has a maximum range of 2,500–4,400 kilometers has a stretched fuselage, compared to the An-148, and has a capacity for 99 passengers. Cubana de Aviacion operates routes to 16 destinations in the Americas, Caribbean and Europe.