FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 9, 2011, New Orleans – The Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport received federal approval to serve as a port of entry for flights to and from Cuba.
Armstrong received official notification from U.S. Customs and Border Protection that its application to serve as a gateway to Cuba was approved along with seven (7) other airports. Previously only Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK) and Miami (MIA) could provide service to Cuba.
The Airport has been working with International Charters & Tours of Metairie on the request for the Cuban service. "We are pleased that New Orleans was approved to be one of a small group of airports nationwide that is able to provide this service,” stated Iftikhar Ahmad, Director of Aviation.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu stated, "The approval of New Orleans as a point of entry into Cuba is an exciting step forward for this community and the entire State of Louisiana. We look forward to offering these charter flights and thank the Obama Administration for opening this gateway to Cuba.”
Although charter flights to and from Cuba will now be allowed, travel will be restricted to "purposeful” travel. Passengers must have close relatives in Cuba or must be involved in the medical or agricultural business sectors. Travel for education and religious activities is also permitted. There is no timeline on when the first flight may operate.
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for the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection press release.