Saturday, April 21, 2018
Transportation

Castor and TIA highlight success of direct Cuba flights

TAMPA — On the same day that severe winter weather canceled and delayed flights to and from the Northeast and Midwest, Tampa International Airport officials announced their 11th weekly flight to Cuba amid clear skies and 80-degree temperatures.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor joined airport CEO Joe Lopano in a news conference to announce the new flight, a weekly charter to Havana. The flight, they said, represents an important milestone for the Tampa Bay community and the airport, which began offering direct flights to Cuba two years ago.

"This is a godsend for the families across this community," Castor said. "Families used to have to travel to Miami at great cost, at great inconvenience, to travel to see their loved ones. Now it's as easy as going from West Tampa, a mile away, right here to the best airport in the country."

Since the airport began offering nonstop flights to Cuba in 2011, about 92,000 passengers have made use of the service, Lopano said. He noted the economic impact the flights have had on the area and the airport itself, saying international passenger traffic has increased by 24 percent.

"We're very focused on growing our international business," he said. "Our No. 1 export is tourism. Every time we bring in more tourists, it means more jobs and more tourists leaving money in the community."

The airport's 11 flights move passengers between three different Cuban cities — Havana, Santa Clara and Holguin. While the passenger numbers represent a small portion of the millions who pass through the airport each year, the rare nature of the route still makes it an important feather in the airport's cap.

Before 2011, only Miami, New York and Los Angeles offered direct flights. But that year, Tampa was one of eight cities that were part of an expansion. Since then, it has become the second busiest U.S. travel hub to Cuba behind Miami.

"This also highlights the fact that we've got to take another step in modernizing the relationship between the United States and Cuba," Castor said. "We have got to move on from this Cold War policy that does not encourage greater engagement and dialogue. It is time now."

Times staff writer Jamal Thalji contributed to this report.

Comments
Free rides on PSTA and HART buses to celebrate Earth Day

Free rides on PSTA and HART buses to celebrate Earth Day

Those who use mass transit across the Tampa Bay area can ride for free on Sunday.To celebrate Earth Day, both the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) and the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) will be offering free rides on Su...
Published: 04/19/18
She calmly landed the Southwest flight and broke barriers as a fighter pilot

She calmly landed the Southwest flight and broke barriers as a fighter pilot

The pilot’s voice was calm yet focused as her plane descended with 149 people on board."Southwest 1380, we’re single engine," Tammie Jo Shults, a former fighter pilot with the U.S. Navy, said. "We have part of the aircraft missing so we’re going to n...
Published: 04/18/18
Carlton: Thanks, Gov. Scott, for the dreaded trip across Interstate 4

Carlton: Thanks, Gov. Scott, for the dreaded trip across Interstate 4

The other day I had to go to Orlando from Tampa on Interstate 4, which has to be one of the most disliked highways in Florida. And I say this as someone who learned to drive on Miami’s I-95.It turned out to be the same root canal of a trip we’ve come...
Published: 04/18/18
NTSB: Blown Southwest jet engine showed ‘metal fatigue’

NTSB: Blown Southwest jet engine showed ‘metal fatigue’

PHILADELPHIA — A preliminary examination of the blown jet engine of the Southwest Airlines plane that set off a terrifying chain of events and left a businesswoman hanging half outside a shattered window showed evidence of "metal fatigue," according ...
Published: 04/18/18
Group promoting road safety out in force on 56th Street Monday

Group promoting road safety out in force on 56th Street Monday

TEMPLE TERRACE — If all goes as planned on Monday (April 23), at least 100 people will line the sides of one of the most dangerous stretches in Hillsborough County — 56th Street between Sligh Avenue and Busch Boulevard — in an effort to get motorists...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Big dig’s big cost: Pasco tunnel idea carries $550 million price tag

Big dig’s big cost: Pasco tunnel idea carries $550 million price tag

NEW PORT RICHEY — Construction costs to tunnel under U.S. 41 in central Pasco could top a half-billion dollars, four times the projected price of building elevated lanes above the highway’s intersection with State Road 54.The cost estimate, said Comm...
Published: 04/17/18
Dr. Delay: How to find out if you qualify for a speed hump; updates on the Pinellas Bayway

Dr. Delay: How to find out if you qualify for a speed hump; updates on the Pinellas Bayway

I live in St. Pete and would like to know how I could go about getting a speed hump installed on my street. Where do I start?Manuel Reyes, St. PetersburgThe place to start would be by contacting the St. Petersburg Neighborhood Transportation Manager,...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
He got fed up with Miami traffic, so now he commutes with dolphins and pelicans

He got fed up with Miami traffic, so now he commutes with dolphins and pelicans

Parker Lake got sick of the rat race. Sick of working in a cubicle. Sick of commuting on Miami’s mean streets. Sick of being overweight from sitting at a desk or in traffic jams.So Lake quit his unfulfilling job, sold his car and moved to a house on ...
Published: 04/09/18
A sixth person killed by the high-speed Brightline train in Florida

A sixth person killed by the high-speed Brightline train in Florida

The Brightline train fatally struck a man Sunday, bringing the total killed by the train to six people since it began test runs last year.The Delray Beach Police Department announced on Twitter that a pedestrian was hit Sunday by a northbound Brightl...
Published: 04/09/18
Dr. Delay: Will the lights at 87th Avenue N and Fourth Street cause extra congestion?

Dr. Delay: Will the lights at 87th Avenue N and Fourth Street cause extra congestion?

Massive new street signals were erected at the intersection of 87th Avenue N. and Fourth Street, just four blocks north from the light-controlled intersection at 83rd Avenue N. At the same time a new WaWa store/gas station is being constructed near 8...
Published: 04/09/18