No more party hats, maracas, balloons, or cakes for South Florida’s Airline Brokers Co., a business partner of the Castro dictatorship that offered Americans charter airline service to the communist island. Without much notice or explanation (or so they say), the Cuban regime cut off the charter company and its lucrative business dealings. But that is the risk one takes when engaging in business with an international crime syndicate like the Castro Mafia in Havana.
No party for last charter from Lauderdale to Cuba
Gone were the festive straw hats, balloons, cake and maracas shakers that last year celebrated the first scheduled charter flight from Fort Lauderdale to Cuba in decades.
Passengers checking in for Saturday’s final scheduled charter to Havana found a somber mood and uncertainties about when they might ever fly again to Cuba from Broward County.
“When I got here to the airport, I thought, ‘How great to fly from Fort Lauderdale. There’s no crowd. How comfortable,'” said Alina Pombo, 48, who was heading to Havana to visit family and friends. “Then, I learned it was the last flight. And I was told I can’t come back next Saturday the way I planned.”
Cuba mid-week suddenly suspended the landing rights for two South Florida companies that arrange charters to the island: Airline Brokers Co. and C&T Charters, effective Tuesday. That halts Airline Broker’s three flights a week from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International, trips by both from Miami International and C&T service from New York’s JFK.
Hundreds of passengers must be rescheduled to charter companies still authorized to land in Cuba. Most remaining charters fly from Miami.
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