New licenses issued by the Obama Administration for US-Cuba passenger ferry operations could be a stepping stone to direct cargo services.
On 5 May the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control approved specialty licenses to a group of American-based companies to operate passenger service to and from Cuba. “We can’t go into as whom they were issued, or how many,” a Treasury Department spokeswoman told IHS Maritime.
Joseph Hinson, president Baja Ferries, which operates a passenger service on Mexico’s west coast, told IHS Maritime he was notified that his license application to operate between the US and Cuba had been approved.
“We’re looking at a September or October time frame to ramp up service” to Cuba, pending final approvals that may be required from the Cuban government, Hinson said.
Hinson is also president of United Americas Shipping Services, a related company that operates bulk cargo services in the Caribbean. He said he was hopeful that passenger service approvals will soon lead to approvals for direct trailer services into Cuba.
“We have capacity for about 2,000 passengers and about 100-150 trailers, so if we’re able to obtain a cargo license we plan to move into that sector as well.”