First American commercial flight to Cuba since 1961

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The pilotes were, symbolically, Captain Mark Luaces, raised in Miami to Cuban parents who came to the U.S. as teenagers, and First Officer Francisco Barreras, whose parents migrated to the U.S. the year commercial flights ceased. In Cuba, a large crowd lined up outside the airport to welcome travelers. In the coming week, American Airlines and Silver Airways also will inaugurate scheduled flights to nine airports across the island, including Havana. At Wednesday’s Fort Lauderdale festivities, Cuba’s Ambassador to the U.S., José Ramón Cabañas, called the moment “historic,” and sought to ease concerns about whether Cuba is ready to receive regular service from the U.S.

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