Cuba is a fascinating and beguiling country with great music, scenery and wonderfully friendly people and we’re finding our trips here more popular than ever. One question that clients periodically ask is, “why don’t Exodus use internal flights within Cuba?”
The principal reason that we don’t use flights on our itineraries is our concern over the safety record and maintenance level of some of the aircraft, combined with the lack of reliability of the safe aircrafts’ schedules. In short, we can’t get the assurances that we need that our clients will be put onto a safe plane.
With the co-operation of our sister companies, together we have carefully vetted the Cuban airlines’ safety and maintenance records and compiled a list of aircraft that we deem too high risk to use. Included in these are all the older Russian-built aircraft that the Cuban airlines use on many of their internal flights. They also use newer and safer French-Italian built ATR aircraft on some of these routes. The problem is that whilst the airlines may schedule for a safe ATR aircraft to fly one particular timetable, they regularly and without warning will switch flights to an older Russian aircraft. Our local partners inform us that this is common practice in Cuba. There is simply no reasonable way of guaranteeing which aircraft you will get and as such we are not willing to put our clients at such risk.
Adding further concern was the sad accident in November 2010, when an ATR on the commonly flown Santiago de Cuba to Havana route went down with the loss of all on board. Such tragic instances corroborate our decision not to take internal flights in Cuba.
Clearly, we believe it unacceptable to put clients at unnecessary risk and in Cuba the relatively small distances involved in travelling means that ground transport is an excellent alternative. Havana in the west of the island to Santiago de Cuba on the far eastern side is 475 miles – certainly not a short drive, but one which when split up with interesting stops in the middle of the island (as on our itineraries) is not arduous and is a great way to see the whole of the country.
Whilst we presently have no choice but to fly to Cuba from our home country, we do have a choice in how we move around the country once there. Coaches and buses only create about 10-25% as much polluting carbon dioxide per passenger kilometre when compared to flying – a substantial reduction in our trips’ contribution to global warming.