Delta Airlines is once again flying to Cuba. The Atlanta-based airline began regular service to Havana marking another milestone since the United States began the process of restoring relations with the island nation in 2014.
Flight 639 to Havana took off from Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport Thursday morning piloted by Captain Gustavo Loureiro. Loureiro, who was born in Cuba, said, “This is my first return since I was 8 months old. I’m 56.”
He continued, “It’s a place I’ve only heard about from stories, stories from my parents, stories from my relatives, movies, documentaries and now I get to see it for myself so that’s a big deal for me.”
The crew also included in-flight service manager Robert Cisneros. Before departure he held his mother’s passport and a photograph of her boarding PanAm’s last flight from Cuba in 1961.
Cisneros’ mother passed away three years ago. He said she wished to be cremated. “We took her ashes out at sea, so we took her ashes off the Keys and we kind of told her ‘hey go to Cuba and free our people,’well later that year on my birthday President Obama made the announcement that ‘hey we are going to open up to Cuba and to me.’ “
Crew member Hopie Acosta remembers her time in Cuba as a young girl, on this flight she carried with her a picture of her family. “I feel incredible,” she said. “I was overwhelmed when I was called with the news I was just, couldn’t believe it – that I was one of the ones chosen. So I feel very blessed and honored to be here.”
Captain Loureiro and his crew will land in Cuba along with two other Delta-operated flights from New York and Miami.