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Sunday, Dec 21, 2014
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4th carrier announces Tampa-Cuba flights

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TAMPA — Another charter flight operator plans to begin offering a Tampa-Cuba route.

Miami-based Gulfstream Air Charters will use aircraft provided by Lakeland-based SkyKing to fly between Tampa International Airport and Santa Clara, Cuba, Tampa airport spokeswoman Janet Zink said Tuesday. SkyKing flies Boeing 737s.

A Gulfstream official confirmed the service, which will begin Nov. 10.

Gulfstream’s entry into the Tampa-Cuba market, in particular on flights serving Santa Clara, a city in central Cuba with a population of more than 225,000, appears to create intense competition on the route.

Miami-based ABC Charters, one of two charter services operating flights between Tampa and Cuba, plans to launch a weekly Tampa-Santa Clara flight on Dec. 4.

Tampa-based Island Travel & Tours, which flies between Tampa and Havana, has U.S. and Cuban government permission to serve Santa Clara but has not released its plans for that route.

California-based Cuba Travel Services Inc. said Monday it would begin flying between Tampa and Cuba by year’s end, but it could not reveal its destinations until U.S. regulatory paperwork — held up by the government shutdown — is approved. Reports among those familiar with Cuba flights said CTS at one point was interested in both the Havana and Santa Clara routes from Tampa.

The charter carrier was spun off from Gulfstream International Airlines, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2010 and subsequently was taken over by Victory Park Capital.

Victory Park Capital transformed Gulfstream’s scheduled service into Silver Airways, which serves Tampa International, but Silver Airways and Gulfstream Air Charters have no corporate connection.

tjackovics@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7817

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