According to Cuban media sources, a Boeing 737 carrying 104 passengers and 9 crew members crashed Friday afternoon in Havana, Cuba, as the flight was departing Jose Marti airport, bound for the Cuban city of Holguin. The plane was operated by Cubana de Aviacion, Cuba’s national carrier, headquartered in the capital.
While no detailed reports on survivors are available at this time, there are reports of passengers being transported from the site of the crash to nearby hospitals. CNN is reporting that at least three passengers on board are confirmed to have survived.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canal visited the scene of the crash shortly after the incident.
— Paul P. Murphy (@murphy_paulp) May 18, 2018
While Cubana de Aviacion is Cuba’s largest domestic carrier, it’s known primarily for its aging fleet and notoriously unreliable service. Earlier this month, Aviator reported that government regulators ordered the airline to ground its fleet of AN-158 aircraft, which “suffered from a series of mechanical failures and flight problems, as well as issues related to structural flaws” and a “lack of spare parts.”
As CBS News reported in the wake of today’s crash, these types of problems are pervasive enough throughout the fleet to have drawn the recent attention of the Cuban government:
Cuba’s First Vice-President, Salvador Valdes Mesa, met Thursday with Cubana officials to discuss improvements in its heavily criticized service. The airline is notorious among Cubans for its frequent delays and cancellations […].
CBS also reported that Cubana’s director general, Capt. Hermes Hernandez Dumas, attributed the airline’s difficulties to the long-standing trade embargo, lifted by President Barack Obama toward the end of his second term, but reversed by his successor, President Donald Trump.
“Among the difficulties created by the U.S. trade embargo is our inability to acquire latest-generation aircraft with technology capable of guaranteeing the stability of aerial operations,” Hernandez said. “Another factor is obtaining part for Cubana’s aircraft.”
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.