United States approves ferry service between Cuba and Florida

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BBC Latin America reports that passenger ferries could be set to run between Florida and Cuba for the first time in more than 50 years after the U.S. government approved new services. The US government has lifted the ban on travel providers and several ferry companies have been given licenses. In terms of airlines, a new charter flight service from New York City, operated by JetBlue, has already been announced. [Also see previous posts Florida companies push U.S. to license ferry services to Cuba and Ferry Service from Florida to Cuba?]

Services between the two countries stopped when the US imposed a trade embargo on Cuba in 1960. But Washington announced the restoration of diplomatic ties in December last year. The US government has now lifted the ban and a number of ferry companies say they have been given licences.

New era

The BBC’s Will Grant in Havana says the latest announcement does not necessarily mean that boats will start launching for Cuban shores straight away, as there are bureaucratic hurdles to overcome in both countries.

However, it is another indication of Washington’s desire to put the policies of isolating Cuba in the past and begin a new era of co-operation, he says.

President of the Miami-based United Americas Shipping Services Joseph Hinson called the move “a great step forward”. He said that “if all goes smoothly we could have things up and running by September”.

Havana Ferry Partners of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said it also had a licence. “This is a historical event. Thanks to President Barack Obama, to whom we are very grateful, for his leadership,” the firm wrote on its Facebook page.

Cargo

Ferries will also be allowed to transport cargo to Cuba, which sits 150km (90 miles) from southern Florida. A new charter flight service from New York City, operated by JetBlue, had already been announced. [. . .]

For full article, see http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-32602923

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