For more than 50 years American airlines have been banned from flying to Cuba because of Washington’s strict embargo against commercial dealings with its Communist foe.
But now there are hopes that the sanctions could be eased – and direct flights resume – thanks to a deal between Sir Richard Branson’s airline and the American carrier, Delta.
Virgin Atlantic is currently 49 per cent owned by Singapore Airlines. Delta, the world’s biggest carrier, is bidding for that stake. If and when almost half the airline becomes US-owned, Virgin will continue with its thrice-weekly jumbo jet from Gatwick to Cuba. A spokeswoman for Virgin Atlantic said: “We have no plans to cancel flying to Havana”.
At Delta’s Atlanta headquarters, the planned minority ownership of an airline serving Cuba is not regarded as an issue according to a spokesman for the airline. The confidence that the Virgin’s Havana connection will continue has led to speculation that the Obama administration is preparing to ease the long-standing embargo.
Chris Parrott, director of the specialist travel firm, Journey Latin America, said: “One would imagine that Delta has spoken to people in power rather than just going ahead on a commercial basis”.
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