A Florida-based tour operator announced it will begin offering direct flights from Baltimore to Havana this fall.
Island Travel & Tours, which already provides flights to Cuba from Miami, is expanding service to offer nonstop flights from BWI-Marshall Airport to Havana's Jose Marti International Airport twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The company is also poised to begin flights from Orlando to Havana in July.
The company plans to operate a 737-300 aircraft for the flights, which will take a little more than three hours. The planes will carry up to 126 passengers, including 114 coach seats and 12 first-class seats.
Airfares from Baltimore to Havana will be $695 round-trip for the first two flights on Sept. 30 and Oct. 3. After the first week, the round-trip fares will be $775.
Passengers will require passports and visas, along with a traveler reservation form and signed travel affidavit. The documents can be found on the tour operator's website at islandtraveltours.com.
William J. Hauf, president of Island Travel & Tours, said he expects the flights from Baltimore also will help facilitate U.S. officials who are now regularly traveling an indirect route from Washington to Havana for negotiations about resuming normal relations.
Hauf said the company first tried to get the Baltimore airport approved for the flights more than a decade ago in 2000 but the government would not allow it.
"We've been wanting to fly from Baltimore to Havana for 15 years, but we've had to wait for the market to improve," he said.
"We're hopeful that these flights will be very popular and that we can fill them and perhaps add other ones."