Cuba, Fly at Your Own Risk

If you’ve followed the news you are aware that a Boeing 737, operated by a Cuban airline, crashed leaving 111 dead. Not too long after the crash I started to wonder how a Cuban airline acquired an American made passenger plane.

The US has maintained strict embargoes on selling any American products to Cuba since the late 1950s. These embargoes are what accounts for the wild assortment of 1950s era American automobiles seen all over the streets of Havana. The ingenious mechanics of Cuba have kept these classics running despite not being able to  import spare parts from America.

While these cars were in Cuba prior to the embargo, the Boeing 737 went into service in the late 1960s, a decade after the first embargo. So how did Cuba get its hands on these planes? The answer is, by a very circuitous route. Nations all over the world buy Boeing aircraft and at some point they resell the old and buy new replacements. Any plane can change hands many times. In the case of the Cuban 737 it was actually owed by a Mexican company who, circumventing the embargoes, leased it to Cuba.

The Mexican owner claims the plane was fully inspected in 2017 and was totally air worthy. The Cuban government placed some blame on the US making it difficult to acquire spare parts. I think the important thing for anyone planing a vacation to Cuba is they should think twice before boarding a plane operated by a third world nation.

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