US to Suspend Private Charter Flights to Cuba

Terminal 2 of the Havana International Airport. File photo.

HAVANA TIMES – The US government on Thursday said it is suspending most private charter flights between the United States and Cuba to ramp up economic pressure on the island nation, reported dpa news.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he asked the Department of Transportation to halt private charter flights to all Cuban airports.

“This Administration will continue to target and cut the revenue the Cuban government earns from landing fees, stays in regime-owned hotels, and other travel-related income,” Pompeo said in a statement.

He added that the move would “deny economic resources” to Cuba’s government, “inhibit its capacity to carry out abuses” and hinder support for the “de facto dictatorship in Venezuela.”

Pompeo said authorized public charter flights to and from Havana and private charter flights for emergency medical purposes, search and rescue, and some travel deemed in the interest of the US would be exempted.

Last October, Washington barred regularly scheduled commercial flights to all Cuban airports except Havana. In January, the US suspended all public charter flights to Cuba, except Havana.

US President Donald Trump has sought to turn back the policy of opening relations with Cuba implemented under former president Barack Obama.

The sanctions are in part geared to make any foreign investors uneasy about doing business with the Island’s military, which controls the lion’s share of the tourism industry and the domestic retail economy.

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