An interesting if overly politicised discussion. I have a few points to make, before which I'd like to clarify that I am not Cuban, have not visited the island, and do not have an axe to grind against the US as a country.
Statistically yes, Cubana do not have a good record. However, one thing I've noticed with airlines around the world is that sometimes a record is just that: a record. Think of how "unsafe" airlines like China Airlines or Korean Air became based on their poor records during the '90s, yet they have since improved and people still fly on them en masse
. Talk about unsafe, think about the American DC-10 crash in Chicago exactly 26 years ago, or the terrifying maintenance practices of Alaska airlines which brought down one of their MD
-83s in such horrific circumstances. Are there passenger numbers down for any other reason than the current global aviation crisis? No.
1998 was a terrible year for Cubana, I won't argue with that. The Tu-154 should have never left the ground at Quito for one thing, and four months later Cubana became one of the few airlines to lose two aircraft in less than a week.
But they responded to those disasters. Their remaining Tu-154s were retired soon thereafter, as were their Yak-40s. I cannot remember the last time they lost an Il-62 or Yak-42, the mainstays of their current fleet, or even an An-24 for that matter. I do not know what goes on in Cubana's hangars these days, but for the most part, they seem to be flying safely.
I do know some people who have flown Cubana in recent years who claimed they have never been so terrified in all their lives, but something I've noticed is that almost any Westerner finds at least their first couple of flights aboard a Russian aircraft a little unnerving to say the least.
Although a different kettle of fish, my father flies a Yak-52, and I can assure you, it is not a gentle plane. If you're used to Cessnas, Pipers or what have you, the Yak will certainly get your adrenal glands pumping! I'd imagine the difference between an A320 and an Il-62 is much the same.
And it is true, since the collapse of the USSR
, spare parts for Russian aircraft are neither as abundant nor readily available as they used to be. Aeronica found it impossible to maintain their Tupolevs after the Cold War ended, and of all countries, Peru has probably suffered the biggest headaches in terms of maintaining Russian aircraft, of which their Armed Forces are largely comprised.
I don't really want to delve into the political differences between Cuba and the US any more than I want to bring up the Basque conflict among Basques and Spaniards. And I don't think that any of you, irrespective of your nationality or political leaning, need reminding that things are never black or white.