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History Made As JetBlue Flight Lands In Cuba

First U.S. Commercial Airline Flight To Cuba Departs From Florida
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

It was a 90 minute flight, uneventful, just like thousands of others today, but when JetBlue Airlines Flight 387 touched down earlier today, it was the first time in more that half a century that a direct commercial flight originating in the United States touched down in the island nation of Cuba. The flight, which originated in Fort Lauderdale, Fl, landed in Santa Clara Cuba, becoming the latest symbol in the thawing of relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, up to 110 daily flights will soon connect the two companies, operated by airlines such as JetBlue, American Airlines, Delta and Southwest. But for today, the celebration that had been more than 50 years in the making was underway.

Flights to the island were banned after a U-2 spy plane was shot down in 1962, killing the pilot. In 2001, restrictions were relaxed allowing charter flights to fly to Cuba. With the recent relaxation of travel restrictions by the U.S., Cuba has seen an increase in tourism from the country 90 miles to its north. But before significant flight increases are made, the U.S. will still have to further relax the ban which has been in place since Fidel Castro and Che Guevera led a revolt on the island nation. Currently travel is still technically illegal, except within 12 categories, which include humanitarian, educational and religious.

Not everyone is happy about the occasion though. U.S. Representative John Katko (R-NY) say the flight pose a security risk to U.S. travelers. Katko was among a group of representative that opposed the relaxation of the ban in the House of Representatives.

In anticipation of the flights returning, Cuban airports have recently adopted US security requirements, increasing searches and vetting employees to U.S. levels.

JetBlue Plane At John F. Kennedy International Airport
Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images

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