By Keith Laing - 03/07/11 11:38 PM EST
Tampa airport officials hailed the approval from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to operate flights to and from Cuba, which is just 90 miles from the southern coast of Florida. They noted the state’s large Cuban-American population.
"We are very excited to be named a new gateway airport for Cuba,” TPA CEO Joe Lopano said Monday. “This announcement will result in much easier and more efficient travel for our considerable Cuban-American community.”
Airport officials said three charter airlines — Air MarBrisa, Island Travel & Tours, Ltd., and ABC Charter — have expressed interest in operating flights from Tampa to Cuba.
Flights could begin by summer or early fall, TPA officials added.