SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Costa Rica will eliminate the visa requirement for citizens of the Russian Federation as a measure to increase tourism and investments from that country, immigration and tourism officials said on Monday.The measure will allow a maximum stay of up to 30 days that can be extended for up to 90 days for each Russian citizen. The decree already was approved and will be published in coming days in the official newspaper La Gaceta, Tourism Minister Allan Flores said. The number of Russian tourists currently visiting Costa Rica is low: Only 4,146 tourists from that country entered Costa Rica in 2013, Flores said. A study by the Costa Rican Tourism Board last year said Russian tourists who would be interested in visiting the country have incomes of more than $120,000 a year. They usually travel with their families and spend up to $5,000 during an average 11-day visit. Allan Flores also said that at least two Russian airlines are evaluating offering special flights to Costa Rica’s Juan Santamaría International Airport in Alajuela/San Jose and Liberia’s Daniel Oduber International Airport in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. Some of the flights would connect via the Dominican Republic and Havana, Cuba. Even though the airlines were not named Aeroflot Russian Airlines operates from Moscow to Havana and Transaero Airlines operates from Moscow to Punta Cana.
LA PAZ, Bolivia–Effective May 23rd, the Bolivian flag carrier Boliviana de Aviacion (BoA) will start non-stop flights from La Paz to Miami. The news were announced by the airline general manager Ronald Casso at a news conference in the Bolivian capital. The airline will operate wide-bodied Boeing 767-300, like the ones its already using to Madrid. Boliviana de Aviacion operates Boeing 737-300s to Buenos Airres and Sao Paulo. Casso declared the airline’s next airport in the U.S. after Miami International will be Washington-Dulles. The biggest ethnic concentration of Bolivians is precisely in the U.S. capital. In 1925 Guillermo Kyllmann founded in Cochabamba LAB Airlines (Lloyd Aereo Boliviano). The airline served as Bolivia’s flag carrier until it ceased operations in 2008. In April 1992 another Bolivian airline was founded under the name of AeroSur; and it suspended its operations on May 2012. Boliviana de Aviacion (BoA) is expected to also extend its operations to other ALBA counties like Venezuela and Cuba.
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.
HAVANA, Cuba. — In April 1949 the Spanish flag carrier IBERIA started flights between Madrid and the Cuban capital Havana. Sixty four years later the airline will have on April 1st, 2013 its last flight to the island nation. The end of an era. For the Spanish carrier Cuba and the Dominican Republic are non-profitable destinations, reasons for the suspension of the air service. IBERIA operated daily flights from Madrid/Barajas International Airport to Havana with wide-bodied Airbus A-340-600s. The traffic between Spain and Cuba is huge but now it will have to be attended by the twice weekly flights of Cubana de Aviacion and the daily operation of Air Europa.
CARACAS, Venezuela. — The Venezuelan flag carrier CONVIASA (Consorcio Venezolano de Industrias Aeronauticas y Servicios Aereos) will start an expansion of routes in the near future. The airline operates a fleet of 14 airliners from its Caracas hub to Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Spain and Trinidad and Tobago. Future routes includes Nicaragua, Miami, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Costa Rica. The airline operated an A-330 from Caracas to Tehran via Damascus, but the flight has been suspended. CONVIASA code shares with Aeroflot, Cubana de Aviacion, Satena and Aerolineas Argentinas.
HAVANA, Cuba. — On February 23rd the Russian Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev ended his two day visit to Havana, Cuba. Russia signed an agreement with Raul Castro’s government to provide three new airliners for Cubana de Aviacion. The airline is going through a fleet renewal hoping to dispose the last Ilyushin IL-62s and YAK-42s. The new airliners include two Tupolev TU-204s and one Ilyushin IL-96s wide body aircraft. Since the U.S. imposed an embargo to the communist island, Cubana de Aviacion has not been able to operate western airliners, except in the late 1970s when the airline leased a DC-8 from Air Canada. The airliner (CU-T1201) operating flight CU-455 from Barbados to Jamaica was brought down by a terrorist attack on October 6th, 1976. With the new Russian airliners entering the fleet, Cubana de Aviacion expects to start new services to more Latin American cities.