The first regularly scheduled commercial flight between the United States and Cuba in more than half a century is set to depart on Wednesday, starting a new chapter in the Obama administration's bid to open trade and travel with the former Cold War foe. Nathan Frandino reports.
A new era is about to land in Cuba. After more than 50 years of being grounded, U.S. commercial flights are set to return. Cuban Vice Minister of Transportation Eduardo Rodriguez. 1176 (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) EDUARDO RODRIGUEZ, CUBAN VICE MINISTER OF TRANSPORTATION, SAYING: "This constitutes, without a doubt, a positive step, and a concrete contribution to the process of improving relations between both countries." JetBlue Airways will lead the way. The first flight leaves Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Wednesday to the colonial city of Santa Clara. Officials say the Abel Santamaria Airport and others in Cuba have been systematically preparing for the return of these flights. After the two countries began normalizing relations in 2014, U.S. airlines have rushed to return. Cubans there are hopeful for what these flights will bring. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ARIEL VEITIA, WORKER IN A PRIVATE RESTAURANT CALLED 'CASONA GUEVARA,' SAYING: "There's a very favorable expectation for us because the tourists that come from the United States can learn how pretty these installations are and how much meaning they have for the people of Villa Clara." Five other airlines will start service this fall, landing their tires on the runway in a market long secluded from the U.S.