Cubana de Aviación S.A., commonly known as Cubana, is a national airline based in Cuba, as well as the country's largest airline. It was founded in October 1929, becoming one of the earliest airlines to emerge in Latin America. It has its corporate headquarters in Havana, and its main base is located at José Martí International Airport. Originally a subsidiary of Pan American World Airways and later a private company owned by Cuban investors, Cubana has been wholly owned by the Cuban government since May 1959 and celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2009.
Cubana was a founder and is a current member of the International Air Transport Association, the International Association of Aeronautical Telecommunications (SITA) and the International Association of Latin American Air Transportation (AITAL).
The airline was established on 8 October 1929 as Compañía Nacional Cubana de Aviación Curtiss S.A., initially as a flying school as well as a charter carrier, beginning scheduled services in 1930. The airline's name indicated its association with the Curtiss aircraft manufacturing company. Cubana's early fleet used Curtiss Robin, amphibian Sikorsky S-38, Ford Trimotor, and Lockheed Electra (L-10) aircraft. Pan American acquired Cubana in 1932, and the word Curtiss was deleted from the carrier's name. By the end of the decade, the carrier had a fleet of four Ford Trimotors and three Lockheed Electras that operated on the domestic Havana–Camaguey, Havana–Guantanamo–Baracoa and Santiago–Baracoa routes.
In the early 1990s, Cubana pursued a multi-faceted strategy to face the challenges posed by the end of the Socialist bloc and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. This strategy targeted a restructuring of Cubana's fleet, the revamping of the airline's technical capabilities, and upgrading the quality of passenger services. After the early 1990s, spare parts for Cubana's Soviet-built aircraft became increasingly harder to source. Limited financial resources and lack of Western financing to replace these aircraft, coupled with restrictions imposed by the U.S. embargo on the sale of American-built aircraft and components (including engines and avionics), made it necessary to keep some of the airline's Soviet-built airplanes in service. Cubana had received its last three new Il-62Ms in late 1990 and early 1991 [along with two other (also new) similar aircraft in 1988 and 1989], and was able to keep them in service long after the USSR's dissolution and the end of all Il-62 production in the mid-1990s. Cubana started leasing some Western aircraft (Airbus, Boeing) for limited periods of time in the mid-1990s, to help sustain its services to Europe, Canada and some Latin American destinations, given the rapid growth of Cuba's tourism sector.
Avion Express is a Lithuanian airline headquartered in Vilnius that specializes in providing capacity to other airlines under the ACMI concept. The airline was established in 2005 albeit under a different name, Nordic Solutions Air Services. The main purpose of the company at the time was to operate charter and wet lease flights on SAAB 340 cargo and passenger aircraft. The company grew steadily to a size of four SAAB 340 aircraft operating mostly in Northern Europe for integrator bluechip clients such as TNT, DHL and Royal Mail. In 2008 the company was re-branded to its current name Avion Express.
In 2010 Avion Express was acquired by French investment company Eyjafjoll SAS, formed by Avion Capital Partners of Switzerland along with strategic investors from industry. The new owners set up a long term plan to develop the airline as an ACMI specialist. The first step of this plan was to move towards a jet airplane operation. A significant milestone was reached in April 2011 when Avion Express introduced its first Airbus 320 passenger aircraft. The aircraft was based in Milan, Malpensa and operated on behalf of Italian tour operators throughout the summer season.
During 2012 and 2013 more aircraft were added and by summer 2014 Avion Express operates a fleet of 9 Airbus A320 and 2 Airbus A319. In 2013 Avion Express successfully passed the IOSA Operational Safety Audit and consequently obtained an IATA registration. The last Saab 340 Cargo aircraft was removed from operation in March 2013. There are about 50 staff in the Vilnius headquarter.
The Airbus A320 family consists of short- to medium-range, narrow-body, commercial passenger twin-engine jet airliners manufactured by Airbus. The family includes the A318, A319, A320 and A321, as well as the ACJ business jet. The A320s are also named A320ceo (current engine option) after the introduction of the A320neo.