Cubana de Aviación

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Cubana de Aviación
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded8 October 1929; 94 years ago (1929-10-08)
Commenced operations1930; 94 years ago (1930)
HubsJosé Martí International Airport
Focus cities
Fleet size16
Parent companyCorporación de la Aviación Civil S.A. (CACSA)
HeadquartersHavana, Cuba
Key peopleArturo Bada Álvarez (CEO)

Cubana de Aviación S.A., commonly known as Cubana, is Cuba's flag carrier,[1] as well as the country's largest airline.[2] It was founded in October 1929, becoming one of the earliest airlines to emerge in Latin America.[3]: 887  It has its corporate headquarters in Havana, and its main base is located at José Martí International Airport.[citation needed] Originally a subsidiary of Pan American World Airways and later a private company owned by Cuban investors, Cubana has been wholly owned by the Cuban government since May 1959.

Cubana was a founder and is a current member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA),[4] the International Association of Aeronautical Telecommunications (SITA) and the International Association of Latin American Air Transportation (AITAL).[5]


Early years to Cuban revolution[edit]

A Cubana Bristol Britannia 318 at Jorge Chávez International Airport in 1972. The carrier received the first of these aircraft in December 1958.[6]

The airline was established by Clement Melville Keys on 8 October 1929 as Compañía Nacional Cubana de Aviación Curtiss S.A., initially as a flying school as well as a charter carrier, beginning scheduled services in 1930.[7][8] The airline's name indicated its association with the Curtiss aircraft manufacturing company. Cubana's early fleet used Curtiss Robin, amphibian Sikorsky S-38, Ford Trimotor, and Lockheed Electra (L-10) aircraft. Pan American acquired Cubana in 1932,[9] and the word Curtiss was deleted from the carrier's name. By the end of the decade, the carrier had a fleet of four Ford Trimotors and three Lockheed Electras that operated on the domestic Havana–Camaguey, Havana–GuantanamoBaracoa and Santiago–Baracoa routes.[10]

In 1944, the first International Conference on Civil Aviation was convened, which later would lead to the creation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Cuba was a participant in this conference and a founding member of ICAO. In April 1945, the conference that created the International Air Transport Association (IATA) was held in Havana. Cubana became a founding member of IATA, and participated in the creation of that organization through its involvement with the Havana conference and the resulting accords. Both conferences and the organizations they spawned helped establish Cubana as an internationally recognized airline company.

In May 1945 Cubana started its first scheduled international flights to Miami, using Douglas DC-3 aircraft, making the airline the first Latin American one to establish scheduled passenger services to this city. In April 1948, a transatlantic route was started between Havana and Madrid (via Bermuda, the Azores and Lisbon) using Douglas DC-4 aircraft. The Madrid route was extended to Rome in 1950. The new route to Europe made Cubana one of the earliest Latin American carriers to establish scheduled transatlantic service.

In 1953, Airwork sold Cubana three Viscount 755s in advance of delivery.[11] Cubana was also the first Latin American airline to operate turboprop aircraft, starting in the mid-1950s with the Vickers Viscount (VV-755), which were put in service in its Miami and domestic routes, and later the Super Viscount (VV-818).

By March 1953, the carrier's fleet consisted of DC-3s and DC-4s.[12] A year later, the strength of the fleet was 11 —six DC-3s, three Lockheed Constellations, one C-46 and one Stinson— while two Super Constellations were on order.[13] Upon delivery of the first of these aircraft, in late 1954, the airline deployed it on the Mexico City–Madrid route.[14] Cubana transported more than 227,000 passenger in 1955, and by that year end it had 715 employees.[9] In May 1957, the airline ordered two Bristol Britannia 318s, intended to serve New York and Spain.[15][16][17] An order for another two aircraft of the type was placed in mid-1958; the combined deal was worth US$14 million.[15] Aimed at replacing the Douglas DC-7s on the Havana–New York route,[18] Cubana received the first of these aircraft in December 1958;[6] it was put in service on that route immediately after being phased in.[19]

Cuban revolution to 1980s[edit]

In May 1959, Cuba's new revolutionary government decided to take over Cubana, expropriating all its investors. The private passenger airline Aerovías Q and private cargo carriers Cuba Aeropostal and Expreso Aéreo Interamericano, were then merged into Cubana, which was rebranded as Empresa Consolidada Cubana de Aviación and had an initial state investment of 80%; it started operations on 27 June 1961.[20] The airline had expanded earlier that year its scheduled transatlantic services, adding Prague to its European route network that solely included Madrid.[a] Having stopovers at Bermuda and the Azores, the route was flown with Bristol Britannia 318s.[23] Cubana later sold one of its Britannias to Czechoslovak Airlines (CSA) so that this carrier could start their own Prague–Havana flights.[24] Cubana trained CSA's personnel in the operation of the Britannias.[23] CSA's new service started in February 1962 initially flying the Prague–ManchesterPrestwick–Havana route, and then switching to the Prague–ShannonGander–Havana run.[25][26]

With the U.S. breaking relations (in 1961) and the imposition of the U.S. embargo on Cuba (in 1962), Cubana was forced to cancel all its U.S. services and turned to the Soviet Union to obtain new aircraft. The first Soviet-built aircraft were delivered in the early 1960s (Ilyushin Il-14 and Il-18), and were used in Cubana's domestic routes. Cubana thus became the first airline in the Americas at that time to operate Soviet-built aircraft. During the decade, the An-12 and the An-24s were also added to the fleet.[27] Cubana's cooperation made it possible for Aeroflot to establish 18-hour non-stop scheduled services between Moscow and Havana in 1963, using Tupolev Tu-114 turboprop airliners, which were the longest non-stop flights in the world at that time. Cooperation with the East German airline Interflug also made it possible for this carrier to establish its first scheduled transatlantic services, linking East Berlin with Havana.

In March 1970 the number of employees was 1,971; at this time the carrier's fleet consisted of five Antonov An-24Bs, four Britannias 318s, two C-46s, four DC-3s, one DC-4, ten Il-14s and four Il-18s.[28]: 480  Regular services to Peru, Chile, Panama, Guyana and several Caribbean destinations were started in the early and mid- 1970s. Cubana also began operating Tupolev Tu-154, Ilyushin Il-76, Yakovlev Yak-40 and Yak-42 jets in the mid-1970s. These aircraft made it possible to upgrade Cubana's domestic services and to expand or start new services to Central and South America, and to some Caribbean nations. Regular services to Canada were also started, as Cuba began to develop its tourism sector. Routes to Africa were started in the mid-1970s, serving Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Cabo Verde. Cubana subsequently ceded one of its Il-62M jets to Angola's national airline TAAG so that it could start its own Luanda-Havana flights, in cooperation with Cubana's services on that route. This allowed TAAG to start its own, first-ever transatlantic route. In the late 1970s Cubana started services to Iraq, becoming the first Latin American carrier to serve Asia, although these services were discontinued in the early 1980s.


A Cubana Ilyushin Il-62M on short final to Toronto Pearson Airport in 1994

As of March 1990, Cubana had 5,658 employees and its fleet consisted of 12 An-24RVs, 26 Antonov An-26s, four Il-18s, 11 Ilyushin Il-62Ms, two Il-76Ds, eight Tupolev Tu-154s (five Tu-154B2s and three Tu-154Ms) and 12 Yakovlev Yak-40s. At this time, the airline flew internationally to Barbados, Basel, Berlin, Bissau, Buenos Aires, Georgetown, Kingston, Lima, Luanda, Madrid, Managua, Mexico City, Montreal, Panama City, Paris and Prague; it also served a domestic network consisting of Baracoa, Camagüey, Holguín, Nicaro, Nueva Gerona, Santiago de Cuba and Las Tunas.[29]

In the early 1990s, Cubana pursued a multi-faceted strategy to face the challenges posed by the dissolution of the Socialist bloc and the Soviet Union. This strategy targeted a restructuring of Cubana's fleet, the revamping of the airline's technical capabilities, and upgrading the quality of passenger services. After the early 1990s, spare parts for Cubana's Soviet-built aircraft became increasingly harder to source. Limited financial resources and lack of Western financing to replace these aircraft, coupled with restrictions imposed by the U.S. embargo on the sale of American-built aircraft and components (including engines and avionics), made it necessary to keep some of the airline's Soviet-built airplanes in service. Cubana had received its last three new Il-62Ms in late 1990 and early 1991 [along with two other (also new) similar aircraft in 1988 and 1989], and was able to keep them in service long after the Soviet Union's dissolution and the end of all Il-62 production in the mid-1990s. Cubana started leasing some Western aircraft (Airbus, Boeing) for limited periods of time in the mid-1990s, to help sustain its services to Europe, Canada and some Latin American destinations, given the rapid growth of Cuba's tourism sector.

2000s and onwards[edit]

In the early 2000s, Cubana refurbished several of its Il-62Ms to use on some of its international routes (all but one of these aircraft were removed from service in 2011), and in 2004 it embarked on a long-term renovation programme. The strategy is based on the purchase of $100 million a year in new generation Russian-built aircraft until 2012.[30] As of 2012, Cubana had completely renovated its fleet with new-generation Russian airliners. As part of its renovation strategy, Cubana has sought to upgrade its technical support capabilities. The airline established a joint venture company with Iberia Airlines of Spain in 2005, to maintain and overhaul Western-built aircraft, such as Airbus and Boeing.

In July 2004, the airline placed an order for two convertible Ilyushin Il-96-300s in a US$110 million deal;[31][32] 85% of that price was financed by a loan from Roseximbank,[33] while Cuba's Aviaimport raised the money for the balance.[34] In December 2005, Cubana received the first of these aircraft,[32][35] becoming the first customer of the type beyond the Russian borders.[1] In April 2006, Cuba signed another deal —worth US$250 million this time— on behalf of Cubana for the purchase of another two Il-96-300s and three Tupolev Tu-204s.[36] Two of these Tu-204s, one passenger and one cargo version, were handed over to the carrier in June and August 2007, respectively.[37][38] During the August 2007 MAKS Airshow Cubana signed a memorandum of understanding with Ilyushin Finance Company (IFC) for the purchase of another two Tu-204s and three Antonov An-148s.[39] A Tu-204 freighter was never delivered to the company due to financing problems.[40]

In July 2012, Cubana de Aviación signed a contract with IFC for the delivery of three Antonov An-158 aircraft.[41] In February 2013, Cubana signed a deal for the order of three 350-seater Ilyushin Il-96-400s.[42] In April the same year, Cubana received its first Antonov An-158;[2][43][44] Cubana received another two An-158s during 2013.[45] The delivery of the third example marked the signing of another contract for three more aircraft of the type, scheduled for delivery in 2014.[41] A fourth An-158 was delivered in April 2014; as of July 2014, Antonov was to deliver to the airline a fifth aircraft of the type.[45]


Cubana operates flights to over 20 destinations in Cuba, Europe, the Caribbean, North, Central and South America.

Codeshare agreements[edit]

Cubana de Aviación codeshares with the following airlines:[46]


Current fleet[edit]

As of October 2019, Cubana operates the following aircraft:[48][49][needs update]

Cubana fleet
Aircraft In fleet Orders Passengers Notes
C Y Total
Antonov An-158 6 99 99[44] First delivered in 2013.[2]
All grounded since May 2018 due to technical issues.[50]
ATR 42-500 1 66 66 CU-T1240
ATR 72-500 1 66 66 CU-T1548
Ilyushin Il-96-300[51] 3[52] 18 244 262[53] CU-T1250 returned to Cubana from Russia in December 2023.[52]
CU-T1251 in storage since 2021.[52]
CU-T1717 in storage since 2017.[52]
Tupolev Tu-204-100 2 12 212 224[54] CU-T1702 completed D check in Russia.[55]
Cargo fleet
Tupolev Tu-204-100CE 2 Cargo CU-C1700 and CU-C1703, both stored[56]
Total 16
A Cubana Tupolev 204 in 2012
A Cubana Antonov An-158 in 2013
A Cubana Ilyushin Il-96-300 departing Madrid–Barajas in 2016
A Cubana Cargo Tupolev Tu-204-100CE in 2010

Former fleet[edit]

The airline operated the following aircraft all through its history:

Accidents and incidents[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ There exists a discrepancy as to whether these flights started in February 1961,[21][22] or in April the same year.[23]


  1. ^ a b "Cuba Replaces Soviet-Era Passenger Aircraft". Airwise News. Reuters. 29 March 2006. Archived from the original on 31 January 2016.
  2. ^ a b c
  3. ^
  4. ^ "The International Air Transport Association History (The Founding of IATA)". Archived from the original on 2 January 2008. Retrieved 5 September 2007.
  5. ^ "Cubana is a founder and member of the International Association of Aeronautical Telecommunications (SITA) and of the International Association of Latin American Air Transportation (AITAL)". 2005. Archived from the original on 20 December 2008.
  6. ^ a b c "Air commerce – Cubana Britannias". Flight: 159. 30 January 1959. Archived from the original on 17 January 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Directory: world airlines – Cubana de Aviacion". Flight International. 165 (4926): 59. 23–29 March 2004. ISSN 0015-3710. Archived from the original on 17 January 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c d "World Airline Directory—Compania Cubana de Aviacion, S.A. – Cubana". Flight. 73 (2569): 535. 18 April 1958. Archived from the original on 17 January 2015. 
  9. ^ a b "World airline directory—Compania Cubana de Aviación S.A. – Cubana". Flight: 600. 3 May 1957. Archived from the original on 26 July 2013.
  10. ^ "Airline companies of the World – Cia. Nacional Cubana de Aviacion, S.A." Flight. XXXV (1583): 433. 27 April 1939. Archived from the original on 9 January 2014.
  11. ^ "Airwork Viscounts sold". Flight: 27. 6 January 1956. Archived from the original on 24 April 2015.
  12. ^ "The World's Airlines...–Compañía Cubana de Aviación, S.A." Flight: 311. 6 March 1953. Archived from the original on 29 September 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  13. ^ "The World's Airlines...–Compañia Cubana de Aviación, S.A." Flight: 676. 21 May 1954. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  14. ^ "Brevities". Flight: 816. 3 December 1954. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 26 June 2012. Cuba's international airline, Compania Cubana de Aviacion, last week inaugurated a Super Constellation service from Mexico City to Madrid via Havana, Bermuda, the Azores and Lisbon. The first of this company's three Super Connies has established an unofficial record for the 2,300-mile journey from Havana to Los Angeles, covering the route in 7 hr 20 min at an average speed of just over 313 m.p.h.
  15. ^ a b "Brevities..." Flight: 246. 15 August 1958. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2012. As this issue went to press Bristol announced a Cubana repeat-order for two more Britannia 318s for delivery next spring. The two aircraft ordered in May 1957 will be delivered by the end of this year. Both orders together are valued at $14m.
  16. ^ "Brevities..." Flight: 851. 21 June 1957. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Compania Cubana de Aviacion —who recently announced their order for two Britannia 310s— have also ordered two Boeing 707s and taken an option on a third.
  17. ^ "Civil aviation – Britannias for Cubana". Flight: 816. 14 June 1957. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014.
  18. ^ "Cubana's revolution". Flight: 988. 26 December 1958. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014.
  19. ^ "From all quarters". Flight. 75: 52. 9 January 1959. Archived from the original on 1 February 2016. The first of four Britannia 318s ordered by Compania Cubana inaugurated scheduled services on 22 December between Havana—whither it had been delivered the previous week—and New York.
  20. ^ "World airline survey... – Empresa Consolidada Cubana de Aviación". Flight International: 510. 2 April 1964. Archived from the original on 30 October 2013.
  21. ^ "The World's airlines... – Compania Cubana de Aviacion SA—Cubana". Flight International: 560. 12 April 1962. Archived from the original on 18 January 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  22. ^ "Brevities". Flight: 27. 6 July 1961. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  23. ^ a b c "New CSA service to Havana". Flight International: 73. 11 January 1962. Archived from the original on 30 January 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  24. ^ "Brevities". Flight: 797. 23 November 1961. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2012. A Bristol Britannia 318 has been acquired by the Czech airline CSA from Cubana.
  25. ^ "The World's Airlines—Ceskoslovenské Aerolinie–CSA". Flight International: 562. 12 April 1962. Archived from the original on 23 January 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  26. ^ "Air commerce..." Flight International: 238. 15 February 1962. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. First picture of the Britannia 318, formerly operated by Cubana, in the markings of CSA. Earlier this month the Czechoslovak airline inaugurated a scheduled service between Prague and Havana with transit rights at Manchester and Prestwick, where this picture was taken
  27. ^ "Air transport..." Flight International: 50. 13 January 1966. Archived from the original on 13 April 2015. Cubana's only Antonov An-12 seen at Shannon Airport at the end of last month on its first flight outside Cuba since delivery about two years ago.
  28. ^ a b
  29. ^ "World airline directory–Cubana (Empresa Consolidada Cubana de Aviacion". Flight International. 137 (4237): 84. 14–20 March 1990. ISSN 0015-3710. Archived from the original on 30 September 2017.
  30. ^ "Russia expands a key aircraft market in Cuba". Reuters. 6 August 2007. Archived from the original on 20 August 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  31. ^ "Cuba Il-96-300s". Flight International. 27 July 2004. Archived from the original on 1 February 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  32. ^ a b Karnozov, Vladimir (10 January 2006). "Cubana takes first VIP Ilyushin Il-96". Moscow: Flightglobal. Flight International. Archived from the original on 22 January 2015. 
  33. ^ "Russian loans for Cubana". Flightglobal. Airline Business. 23 January 2006. Archived from the original on 1 February 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  34. ^ "Cubana's Il-96-300 ready as VASO gets a boost". Flightglobal. Flight International. 2 August 2005. Archived from the original on 23 January 2015. Retrieved 19 September 2012.
  35. ^ Kaminski-Morrow, David (22 August 2006). "Russia completes 'hot and high' testing with Cubana Ilyushin Il-96-300 in Ecuador". London: Flightglobal. Archived from the original on 22 January 2015. The tests involved one of the Il-96-300s, registered CU-T1251, delivered to Cuban flag-carrier Cubana de Aviación towards the end of last year. 
  36. ^ "Other News - 04/11/2006". Air Transport World. 12 April 2006. Archived from the original on 17 January 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  37. ^ Karnozov, Vladimir (12 June 2007). "Pictures: First Tupolev Tu-204 for Cubana prepared for delivery". London: Archived from the original on 10 December 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  38. ^ "PICTURE: Cubana takes delivery of first Tu-204 freighter". London: 3 August 2007. Archived from the original on 1 February 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  39. ^ Straus, Brian (24 August 2007). "MAKS: Atlant-Soyuz customer for four 737-700s; Ilyushin sells 96 more aircraft". Air Transport World. Archived from the original on 18 September 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  40. ^ "Russia delivers, barely". Flightglobal. Flight International. 2 February 2009. Archived from the original on 1 April 2013. Retrieved 19 September 2012. Cubana de Aviacion did not take a Tu-204-100CE freighter, rebuffing attempts by Russia's VneshTorgBank to charge it a higher interest rate than the agreed 7-8%, a figure that had been approved by the Russian and Cuban governments.
  41. ^ a b "Cubana de Aviacion получила третий самолет АН-158" [Cubana de Aviacion received a third An-158]. ДЕЛО (in Ukrainian). 28 August 2013. Archived from the original on 9 August 2014. 
  42. ^ Vogelaar, Rob (22 February 2013). "Cubana buys Antonov An-158 and Il-96-400s". Ria Novosti. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013.
  43. ^ ""Антонов" передал второй Ан-158 на Кубу" [Antonov handed over the second An-158 to Cuba]. (in Russian). 25 July 2013. Archived from the original on 26 July 2013.
  44. ^ a b "Antonov Enterprise passes second regional An-158 aircraft to Cubana de Aviacion". Interfax Europe. 24 July 2013. Archived from the original on 5 October 2013.
  45. ^ a b "Украина отправит на Кубу уже пятый Ан-158" [Ukraine to deliver the fifth An-158 to Cuba]. Телеграф (in Ukrainian). 17 July 2014. Archived from the original on 9 August 2014. 
  46. ^ "Profile on Cubana de Aviacion". CAPA Centre for Aviation. Archived from the original on 13 April 2017.
  47. ^ "CUBANA / SUNRISE AIRWAYS BEGINS CODESHARE PARTNERSHIP FROM NOV 2022". Aeroroutes. 25 November 2022. Retrieved 28 November 2022.
  48. ^ "Global Airline Guide 2019 (Part One)". Airliner World (October 2019): 13.
  49. ^ Suárez, Michel (21 November 2016). "Cubana's fleet: VIPs come first". Diario de Cuba. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  50. ^ Miami Herald (subscription required)
  51. ^ Montag-Girmes, Polina (10 February 2017). "Russian manufacturer to modernize the Ilyushin Il-96". Air Transport World. Archived from the original on 11 February 2017.
  52. ^ a b c d Andrew Crider (3 December 2023). "World's Last Commercial Operator Of Ilyushin Il-96 Cubana de Aviacion Has Its Plane Back After 16 Months". Simple Flying. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  53. ^ "Antonov AN-24D". Cubana de Aviación. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Retrieved 1 September 2012.
  54. ^ "Tupolev TU-204 CE". Cubana de Aviación. Archived from the original on 12 February 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2012.
  55. ^ "Diese Tupolew war über drei Jahre in der Wartung" [This Tupolev was in maintenance for over three years]. Flug Revue (in German). 5 September 2022.
  56. ^ "Карточка оператора: Cubana de Aviacion ✈ ✈ наша авиация".
  57. ^ a b c "World airline survey – Empresa Consolidada Cubana de Aviacion". Flight International. Vol. 91, no. 3031. 13 April 1967. Archived from the original on 17 January 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Lloyd, Barry (2023). Cubana: A Caribbean Survivor. Airlines Series, Vol. 10. Stamford, Lincs, UK: Key Publishing. ISBN 9781802824728.

External links[edit]

Media related to Cubana at Wikimedia Commons