TRAVEL
10/11/2011 04:37 pm ET Updated Dec 11, 2011

Key West Airport Approved To Offer Flights To Cuba

Americans en-route to Cuba can now fly to the island nation via Key West.

On Oct. 4, federal authorities approved Key West International Airport, a destination only 90 miles from the Caribbean island, as the third Floridian city to host charter flights to Havana, The Miami Herald reports.

The approval doesn't come without restrictions, though.

Customs and Border Protection will only allow the airport to charter flights containing a maximum of 10 passengers, UPI reports. The limit is due to the airport's small size, but officials said the restriction could change as the "airport updates its facilities."

Fort Lauderdale International Airport, a larger airport about four hours northeast of Key West near Miami, can charter flights with more than 150 passengers, the Sun Sentinel reports.

Travel to the island still must be authorized by the government, NBC Miami points out.

In the past, Miami, Los Angeles and New York were the only US cities allowed to offer flights into and out of Cuba.

In March, eight airports were approved by President Barack Obama to join that list: Chicago's O'Hare International Airport along with the international airports of Baltimore, Dallas/Fort Worth, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Tampa, Atlanta and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Flights are also available from Fort Lauderdale.

Prior to the 1959 Revolution and Fidel Castro's rise to power that led to the severed ties between the US and Cuba, Key West locals and tourists often traveled to the island for weekend trips, Reuters reports.

"Many of us look forward to that day coming again. Key West and Cuba share a history and it would be nice to see some normalcy back between us and Havana," Key West Mayor Craig Cates told Reuters.