Here's my understanding of how Cubana gets around the embargo:
The airplanes, while flying under the Cuban flag, are leased to Cubana, with ownership of the plane belonging to a third country.
A loophole in the Helms-Burton act does not punish foreigners from doing business with Cuba. Therefore, if Cubana has a plane that needs an American part, then the third party (not subject to the embargo) orders it for themselves, and then turns around and re-sells to Cubana. I believe a similar arrangement has been done for Iran Air and their old Boeings for many years, with a Swiss holding company as the middle man.
The embargo isn't what it used to be. In 1962, I believe, a Continental 707 was hijacked out of Phoenix. The gunman demanded to be taken to Cuba. American officials were desperate to keep this advanced airplane out of Cuban, and therefore Soviet, hands. Today, American charter flights arrive every day, and Boeing and Airbus technologies are all over the place.
Here's my question: When the USSR
was around, credits and barter were common. Now with the demise of the Soviet Union, hard currency is the only acceptable form of payment. Cuba is broke - so how do they order new aircraft?
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