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Charter flights between MSP, Cuba start Wednesday, commercial route could follow

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The Minnesota Orchestra will be flying direct from Minneapolis-St. Paul airport to Cuba after a ruling by the Customs and Border Patrol which could pave the way for regular flights between the Twin Cities and Havana.

The CBP approved MSP as a "Port of Entry" into Cuba at the urging of Minnesota's U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, according to the senator's office on Tuesday.

She made the request so that The Minnesota Orchestra will be able to fly directly from MSP to Cuba on Wednesday for its historic concert in Havana this weekend, rather than having to make a "costly additional stop" at another airport already approved for flights.

Sen. Klobuchar's office said that the decision means MSP will be eligible for commercial and charter flights between MSP and Cuba – one of only 19 airports in the U.S.

"Securing direct flights from the MSP Airport and Havana will make it easier for other Minnesotans to seek travel and commerce opportunities in Cuba, and I will continue pushing policies that will benefit both our country and the Cuban people," she said in a press release.

However, the Star Tribune reports that approval for a full commercial service to Cuba from MSP still needs to be granted by the Department of Transportation, so it may be a while before airlines began running regular commercial flights.

The CBP approval will allow businesses to charter planes to fly direct to Cuba from MSP, though again the newspaper says charter airlines must get FAA approval before taking off for the country.

The Minnesota Orchestra will become one of the first American classical orchestras to play in Cuba since President Obama announced a change in U.S. policy towards Cuba, which is expected to open greater links between the two nations, MPR reports.

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