Thursday, December 14, 2017
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
Dr. Delay: St. Petersburg road projects for bikes and wastewater

Dr. Delay: St. Petersburg road projects for bikes and wastewater

What is the city of St. Petersburg doing on First Avenue S between Pa sadena Avenue and Park Street? They have installed a concrete bumper in the middle of the road for some reason. Also on Ninth Avenue N, they are installing something from 71st Stre...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Express lanes set to open on Veterans. They’re free -- for now.

Express lanes set to open on Veterans. They’re free -- for now.

TAMPA — Drivers on the Veterans Expressway will gain an extra lane from Gunn Highway to Hillsborough Avenue starting Saturday.But there’s a catch: Once drivers enter the lane, they won’t be able to leave it — not until a designated exit about six mil...
Published: 12/08/17
Pasco group picks untried intersection design to ease U.S. 41/SR 54 congestion

Pasco group picks untried intersection design to ease U.S. 41/SR 54 congestion

LAND O’LAKES – A citizens group says a better way to move vehicles along a congested central Pasco corridor could involve a never-been-tried intersection design that diverts turning traffic onto parallel frontage roads.The citizens group, known as th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Northbound Sunshine Skyway lanes to close for running event in March

Northbound Sunshine Skyway lanes to close for running event in March

ST. PETERSBURG — The Sunshine Skyway bridge will shut down on a Sunday morning in March for a running race that is expected to draw up to 7,000 participants.The Armed Forces Families Foundation announced the event, dubbed the "Skyway 10k Saluting Mil...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17
Dr. Delay: Confusing striping at Ulmerton and Roosevelt is temporary

Dr. Delay: Confusing striping at Ulmerton and Roosevelt is temporary

Heading east where Roosevelt Boulevard joins Ulmerton Road, the inside lane of Roosevelt is confusing where the roads merge. If a driver uses the lane striping on their right as their guide, they are in one lane, and if they stay to the left, they ar...
Published: 12/05/17
Today: Pasco, Hernando residents can meet on transportation

Today: Pasco, Hernando residents can meet on transportation

Pasco and Hernando residents will get to find out what transportation projects are in the works for their communities on Tuesday evening.PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Long-awaited Tampa Bay transit study identifies five corridors for future transportation syste...
Published: 12/05/17

Workers to drill under Gandy Boulevard, partially closing lane Monday through Friday

TAMPA — An eastbound lane on West Gandy Boulevard at Church Avenue will partially close from Monday through Friday for drilling related to the Selmon Extension.Workers will use a geotechnical drill to examine the soil under the road, according to pro...
Published: 12/02/17
St. Petersburg to replace 40th Avenue Bridge; cones stay in the meantime

St. Petersburg to replace 40th Avenue Bridge; cones stay in the meantime

ST. PETERSBURG — Those traversing the 40th Avenue Bridge, the main span connecting Shore Acres and Venetian Isles with the Old Northeast and Northeast Park neighborhoods, can expect to see orange cones barricading the center of the bridge for t...
Updated one month ago
Dr. Delay: Signal timing meant to move traffic, not frustrate drivers, county says

Dr. Delay: Signal timing meant to move traffic, not frustrate drivers, county says

What is going on with the traffic lights on 66th Street? The way they are timed could be causing road rage.Going either north or south on 66th from 102nd Avenue N to 54th Avenue N, it used to work like this: The light would stop both lanes, those tra...
Updated one month ago
Dr. Delay: Pinellas traffic officials to tweak signals near Largo Mall

Dr. Delay: Pinellas traffic officials to tweak signals near Largo Mall

The Largo Mall entrance stoplight on Ulmerton Road just east of Seminole Boulevard has been causing traffic delays on eastbound Ulmerton at Seminole Boulevard. It appears that the light at the Largo Mall entrance is being triggered on-demand by folks...
Updated one month ago