UW Today

January 5, 2017

UW President Ana Mari Cauce on board first West Coast commercial flight to Havana

UW President Ana Mari Cauce, the first Cuban-born president of a major American university, was on board the first West Coast commercial flight to Havana on Thursday.

Cauce left Cuba with her family when she was 3 years old.

“I’m thrilled at this new spirit of openness and the opportunity for us to build greater ties with the people of Cuba,” said Cauce. “We have much to share and learn about the Cuban people’s work in health care and education. This visit is a high point for me personally and professionally.”

The passengers onboard the Alaska Airlines inaugural flight — 50 political, business and cultural leaders from California and the state of Washington — are visiting Cuba’s capital city with a focus on education, trade and tourism.

This trip launched the first regularly scheduled U.S. commercial flights between Los Angeles and Havana, Cuba. While the inaugural flight to Havana is a first for Alaska, it isn’t the first time the airline has flown to Cuba. In the early 1970s, Alaska flew U.S. Military Airlift Command charter flights to the base at Guantanamo Bay, as well as charters to Caribbean locations such as Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Panama.

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