NBC Miami: Direct flights from Key West to Cuba, with limitations, have been approved by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and can commence once all paperwork is cleared, KeysNet.com reports.
"After reviewing the additional information you provided in your July 15, 2011, letter, I am pleased to inform you that Key West International Airport has met the criteria...and has been approved to offer passenger air service to and from Cuba," Thomas Winkowski, assistant commissioner in Customs Office of Field Operations, said in a letter to Monroe County Airports director Peter Horton. "However, in view of the limitations of [the airport], aircraft may travel with no more than 10 passengers per flight."
But if the airport facilities are improved, Winkowski wrote, that could be subject to change.
U.S. flights to Cuba are usually chartered and passengers have to be approved by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control. This allows licenses for medical, cultural, journalistic or education travel, though some can board the flights for reasons concerning business purposes or personal related issues.
In September, Fort Lauderdale Hollywood-International Airport began boarding direct flights to Cuba, the first direct flight to the country in nearly 30 years.
Since direct flights ended in 1987, most travelers have had to fly to other countries before traveling to Cuba.
Under a U.S. trade embargo, tourist travel to Cuba from the U.S. has been prohibited and direct flights were available only at Miami International Airport. But in March, following the easing of travel restrictions by President Barack Obama, customs officials began allowing direct flights for approved travelers from Tampa International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, and several others are following suit.
To travel between the U.S. and Cuba, all aircraft must be properly licensed or otherwise authorized.