MIAMI – Antonio Figuereo said he paid $600 for his flight from Miami International Airport to the Havana Jose Marti International Airport.
Figuereo said the cost of gas was steep since he had to drive to Miami from Orlando, where he lives. He also had to pay extra for luggage to take medications and gifts for relatives.
Cuba remains open for travel. Although tourist activities are still prohibited for Americans, there is a high demand for tickets to visit family despite the coronavirus pandemic.
“In response to a strong demand, you’re also seeing American Airlines moving from four flights to six flights, I think towards the beginning of March,” said Michael Zuccato, of Cuba Travel Services.
Southwest has one daily flight to Cuba from Tampa and JetBlue has two daily flights to Cuba from Fort Lauderdale. Zuccato said the demand is so high there is definitely a need for more flights out of South Florida.
On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added Cuba to the long list of countries that have a “very high level” of COVID-19 and recommend that Americans “avoid travel” there. This prompted the State Department to update a “Do Not Travel” advisory.
On the island, amid a financial crisis, Cubans were hit with the news of a new tax that will affect private street vendors who typically sell produce.
Manuel Cuesta Morua, a dissident, is worried about how this will affect the impoverished Cubans who are already dealing with food shortages.
There is also stress about world news. Tuesday’s headline on the Granma newspaper — Is the U.S. attempting to push Russia into an armed conflict? — portrayed the U.S. as the aggressor in the crisis.