1. Opinion

Editorial: Keep pushing for Tampa flights to Cuba

Published Jun. 17, 2016

The commercial flights that begin this fall between the United States and Cuba mark the continuing turnaround in relations with an important southern neighbor. This latest step is another boon to Cuban-American families and to regional security, and it brings welcome new opportunities for Florida and Tampa Bay.

The U.S. Department of Transportation this month approved flights by six American commercial airlines to nine Cuban cities. While charter flights from Tampa and other U.S. cities have served Cuba's capital, Havana, for years, this marks the biggest expansion in the travel market between two countries that had largely been separated by Cold War animosity for a half-century.

The first flights will depart from Miami, Fort Lauderdale and other major gateways and be operated by some of the nation's biggest airlines, including JetBlue, American and Southwest. While no carriers sought flights from Tampa, this region is in the running for commercial flights to Havana when the government allocates those routes this summer.

Since President Barack Obama first relaxed trade and travel restrictions on the island in 2009, the two nations have moved across a broad political and economic front to build stronger ties. The commercial flights will help build confidence as the two sides work to fully normalize relations. Closer to home, they will make it easier and cheaper for Tampa Bay residents to visit; for Cuban-Americans here to rekindle family and cultural ties; and for the region's business community to play a bigger role as Cuba reopens to the outside world. Local leaders should push for Tampa to get the commercial flights and for the region to host a Cuban consulate.

This new era in relations is promising for both sides and something the next president should build on.


  1. Stephen A. Schwarzman, CEO of the Blackstone Group, speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this year. MARKUS SCHREIBER  |  AP
    The billionaire also talks trade with China in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times.
  2. Earlier today• Opinion
    Editorial cartoon for Thursday from Times wire services LISA BENSON  |  Washington Post Syndicate
  3. Yesterday• Opinion
    Plumes of steam drift from the cooling tower of FirstEnergy Corp.'s Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio. RON SCHWANE  |  AP
    Thursday’s letters to the editor
  4. Nearly three dozen trees were cut down at a half-abandoned trailer park along Gandy Boulevard in August, enraging tree advocates and sparking another battle between the city of Tampa and a new state law that removes local government authority over tree removal. [CHARLIE FRAGO | Times]
    The Florida Legislature made it easier for residents to cut down trees without permission from local government. Now everybody wants to do it.
  5. Editorial cartoons for Wednesday from Times wire services Andy Marlette/Creators Syndicate
  6. The M-16 is a pure military weapon. File photo
    Wednesday’s letters to the editor
  7. State Rep. Chris Sprowls, 35, R-Palm Harbor, speaks Tuesday after Republicans selected him as the next House speaker.  Associated Press I Caina Calvan BOBBY CAINA CALVAN  |  AP
    The Palm Harbor Republican will become the second Florida House speaker from Pinellas.
  8. Hernando County community news Tara McCarty
  9. editorial cartoon from times wires Andy Marlette -- Pensacola News Journal
  10. Governor Ron DeSantis. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times] "OCTAVIO JONES   |   TIMES"  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Here’s what readers had to say in Tuesday’s paper.