JetBlue inaugurates route from Boston to Cuba's capital

HAVANA (AP) — A JetBlue flight from Boston landed in Havana on Saturday, as the U.S. airline expanded its routes to Cuba despite a drop in American visitors amid tensions between the countries.

The plane with more than 120 passengers on board was received with flags from both countries at the Jose Marti airport in Cuba's capital.

"From the first day we've been willing to commit ourselves to this island long term," said Giselle Cortes, director of international airports at JetBlue. "We've been the only one who has not canceled any routes but have added Havana to Boston."

Commercial flights between the countries were ended a half century ago during the Cold War. But they resumed in 2016 amid the rapprochement between Washington and Cuba that followed the 2014 return of diplomatic relations under the Obama administration.

However, Donald Trump took over the U.S. presidency and placed new restriction on travel to Cuba.

The number of U.S. visitors to the island dropped. A Cuban report shows that in the first quarter of 2018 the number of Americans visiting the island fell by 43 percent compared to the same period last year.

Airlines such as Alaska, Spirit, Frontier and Delta dropped service to Cuba because of weak demand.

Besides Boston, Jetblue also has flights to Cuba from Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and New York.