Cuba flights could be coming to Jacksonville
Mar 3, 2016
Jensen Werley, Reporter
Jacksonville Business Journal

Cuba flights could come to Jacksonville — Fort Lauderdale-based airline Silver Airways has applied to routes to Cuba from five Florida cities, including out of Jacksonville International Airport.

The airline applied for routes out of Key West, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville and Fort Myers/Naples to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which opened applications Feb. 16.

Silver applied for routes to all 10 available Cuban cities, something that it doesn't expect from the other applicants.

“What we've seen so far is we're likely the only airline serving all 10 cities available in Cuba,” said Silver spokeswoman Misty Pinson. “We're really committed to the Cuban-American community and want to provide that bridge between Florida and Cuba.”

She said that when applying, Silver wanted to focus on the Cuban-American population that is most interested in routes: Two-thirds of Cuban-Americans live in Florida.

The airline applied for two weekly frequencies from Jacksonville to Havana, with the opportunity to connect to Tampa.

“We're very committed to Jacksonville,” Pinson said. “It's another logical step to continue that relationship with the local community and the airport there.”

For its part, the Jacksonville Aviation Authority said it's looking forward to the opportunity to have a flight to Cuba.

“We're excited,” said spokeswoman Debbie Jones, “and we'll do what we can to support them.”

Pricing for the flights has not yet been determined. Pinson said the next step will be for the DOT to review applications and award the flights.

Although she wasn't sure when that would be, she said Silver is expecting to start flights by the end of the year.

“We've really been looking forward to this for quite some time now,” she said, “and we're really looking forward to receiving word from the Department of Transportation.”