Joe Perez of Cuba Travel Services, John Albrecht from Oakland International Airport, Carol Steele - Global Exchange, Mike Zucatto - Cuba Travel Services, Isaac Kos-Read - Port of Oakland

A direct flight from Oakland to Havana?  It’s closer than you think!

Yesterday, in partnership with U.S. Representative Barbara Lee, who has a long and progressive history of championing improved relations between the U.S. and Cuba, the Port of Oakland hosted a Community-based round table to discuss how to increase travel between the San Francisco Bay Area/Northern California region and Cuba via the Oakland international Airport. Oakland is the only approved regional gateway for direct flights to the island.

I was proud to be present at this inaugural meeting of the minds and want to report that it was a very productive discussion, in a room that was buzzing with passion and information about why operating these flights would be a great thing!

There were representatives there from many different parts of the community, from religious and community leaders to people representing the health and the medical community, to many of us, like Global Exchange, who have been operating Legal Delegations to Cuba for more than 20 years, offering a wide spectrum of cultural, educational and sustainability-focused trips, with many participants coming from all over Northern California that would jump at the chance to fly directly from the Oakland International Airport!  Also present at this meeting were Joe Perez and Michael Zucatto of Cuba Travel Services, tour specialists with Cuba for many years, that would be operating the charter flight.

This was an excellent opportunity to foster greater ties between our two countries and explore the possibility of history making flights and economic development! Who knows?  Maybe by the time some of our trips are leaving in the Fall, people will be able to fly directly to Havana from Oakland International Airport!  What has been a dream of many of us that work with Cuba, seems to be a very tangible reality in the not so distant future! Thank you Congresswoman Lee for inviting us, and thank you for all of the work that you do to to further develop our relations with Cuba, and untiring efforts to End The Embargo!!

I want to be on that first flight – who’s coming with me?