For the first time in over half a century, United States airlines are making commercial flights into Havana, Cuba — just days after the death of that country's former leader, Fidel Castro.
American Airlines, which scheduled flights to several cities in the country, had a plane take off for Cuba for the first time from Miami International Airport shortly after 7:30 a.m. Monday. It is the first commercial flight from any U.S. carrier to the capital city since Castro cut off relations with the country shortly after taking power.
The first return flight from the capital city, now in mourning for the man who led the country's communist revolution, was scheduled to return around 10:30 a.m.
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"We were the last country with the embargo. I think it's time to normalize things," said Daniel Lewis, one of the passengers on the first flight.
Just before the historic flight took off, a water cannon salute bid farewell to the passengers - and then it was up and away to the skies for a historic journey.
Also, Monday, a Havana-bound JetBlue flight departed from John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City. Delta plans its first flights to Havana on December 1.
Flights have resumed between the countries — part of President Barack Obama's plans to renew relations between the counties just 90 miles apart – with the first ones taking off in August from both MIA and Fort Lauderdale / Hollywood International Airport.
A JetBlue flight from Fort Lauderdale to Santa Clara was the first U.S. commercial flight to any Cuban city.
Despite the thaw in relations that allowed new flights, people may only fly to Cuba for 12 reasons, including family visits, official U.S. business and humanitarian projects, but not tourism.
President-elect Donald Trump and his team haven't indicated if his administration will keep Obama's policy, though Trump tweeted Monday morning, "If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal." He didn't offer specifics.
It was announced Monday that neither President Obama or Vice President Biden would be attending Castro's funeral.
American Airlines plans on having four daily flights between Havana and Miami under the new plans.