SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–The U.S. low cost carrier Spirit Airlines said Monday it would open four weekly flights between San José and Houston beginning on May 28, 2015.The airline plans to open the new route to Costa Rica as part of its expansion in Latin America, the company said. Flights will use an Airbus A319 and A320 with the capacity to accommodate 178 passengers. Alberto López, general manager of the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT), said the carrier’s announcement is important for the country as it will be the first flight of a low-cost airline from the central region of the U.S. to Costa Rica. “Texas is the third largest state where the best traveler prospects for our country live, which means its residents have a high interest in visiting or returning to Costa Rica. This new route and four weekly flights will increase the number of seats available and the number of tourists visiting our country,” López said on Monday evening. ICT studies show that Texas has 2 million residents who could be considered as top prospects for tourism in the region. “Texans are seasoned travelers with high income and higher education levels,” the ICT claims. Official reports also state that during the first nine months of this year, some 740,000 U.S. travelers entered the country by air with a tourist visa. U.S. tourists who entered Costa Rica in 2013 remained on average 10.4 nights and spent an average of $1,232 during their stay. Spirit’s announcement adds to five other airlines that have scheduled new flights to the country. Aeroméxico, JetBlue, Delta Airlines and United Airlines will increase flights to the country’s two international airports, Juan Santamaría, outside the capital, and Daniel Oduber, in Liberia City in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. Last week, German carrier Condor started its third weekly flight to Costa Rica, and Cubana Airlines on Sunday resumed nonstop flights to Cuba. Thomson Airways and Southwest Airlines confirmed new flights in 2015, while Turkish Airlines, VECA Airlines and VivaColombia currently are in negotiations for opening routes to Costa Rica in 2015. Also Costa Rican start-up Air Costa Rica should start flights from San Jose to Miami, San Andres Island, Central America and Mexico with two Boeing 737-300s. ICT executives also hope that Spirit Airlines would consider Liberia Airport in the near future from both Ft. Lauderdale and Houston.
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.