By Lorraine Mirabella, The Baltimore Sun
6:11 PM EST, February 21, 2012
Plans to begin weekly flights to Cuba from Baltimore have been pushed back to October because of lack of demand, the head of the travel company offering the service said Tuesday. The flights were to begin next month.
William Hauf, president of Tampa, Fla.-based Island Travel & Tours Ltd., said his company delayed the start of the service to Havana from Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to allow more time to market the flights to eligible groups, such as university and religious organizations.
"We started to promote the flight in the middle of January with the full expectation there would be great demand for the flight, but I'm afraid the demand we expected to be there has not yet matured," Hauf said. "I think it's a matter of awareness."
To cover costs, each flight requires 80 passengers, Hauf said, adding that only a few tickets had been sold.
But Hauf said he still believes the Baltimore-Washington area is one of the best in the country from which to originate such flights. He said demand should be sufficient by October to run weekly flights. Eventually, he wants to operate twice-weekly trips.
Hauf said his company, which since November has run Sunday flights from Tampa to Havana, would continue marketing the BWI-to-Cuba flights to colleges, religious groups and individuals eligible to travel under a "people to people" license.
The licenses are issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, part of the U.S. Treasury Department, often to people doing humanitarian work.
Round-trip tickets are to cost $895, which includes $58 for federal, state and airport taxes, Hauf said.
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