First direct charter flights between U.S. and Cuba start
A countdown to departure clock is framed by a reflection of an American Airlines fleet clerk servicing an airplane at JFK International airport in New York on Aug. 1 2012 photo, a. (AP / Mary Altaffer)
NEW YORK - New direct charter flights between New York City and Cuba are now taking off.
Cuba Travel Services has started offering a weekly Tuesday charter between John F. Kennedy International Airport and Havana for people authorized by the U.S. government to visit the island. The flights are operated by Sun Country Airlines, and cost $849 round-trip. The price includes airfare, Cuban medical insurance and U.S. departure taxes.
In January, the Obama administration announced it would be easing travel restrictions.
Despite improving relations, tourism is still banned. Travelers must still declare a purpose that fits into one of the 12 approved categories, including family visits, government work and journalism. But most visitors no longer need to apply for a special license and wait for U.S. government approval.