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Another Cubana Aircraft Returns Home

The airline's fleet has been undergoing heavy maintenance checks in Russia.

A stored Cubana IL-96 in Havana, Cuba (Photo: AirlineGeeks)

Cubana, the Havana-based flag carrier of Cuba – now in its 94th year – has just received another one of its aircraft back from maintenance. Until recently, most of its fleet is parked except for a single ATR72 aircraft that flies domestically within the country.

Roughly three months ago, in September of 2023, a Tupolev TU204, which carriers the registration CU-T1702, returned to Cuba after being flown in from Ulyanovsk, Russia where it was undergoing heavy maintenance for over four years. The Tupolev in question flew domestically for a few months within Cuba, before being flown to Doha via Gander and Moscow on Nov. 30, 2023.

A Cubana Tupolev Tu204 parked in Havana (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

Thanks to the carrier’s surprisingly active Facebook page, it is now known that the airline has received an Ilyushin IL-96-300 that carries the registration of CU-T1250 after it was flown back to Cuba from Russia after “regularly scheduled maintenance.” The aircraft was met with a water cannon salute upon arrival in Cuba on Dec. 3, 2023.

A Cubana Ilyushin IL-96-300 (Photo: Cubana de Aviación)

A Rare Aircraft

It is assumed that similar to the TU204, the IL96-300 will be placed on regularly scheduled routes within Cubana’s network in the near future. The airline has flown this aircraft on its main two international routes to Buenos Aries and Madrid, which have been flown on leased Airbus A340-300s from Spanish company PlusUltra since their IL96s have been in maintenance.

For AvGeeks who can visit Cuba and fly on the airline, this presents a rare and unique opportunity as the airline will have two aircraft that aren’t found anywhere in the world on passenger operations; the IL96, as Cubana is the sole commercial operator, and the Tu204, of which Cubana is one of two current operators with the second being Air Koryo in North Korea.

Joey Gerardi
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  • Joey Gerardi

    Joe has always been interested in planes, for as long as he can remember. He grew up in Central New York during the early 2000s when US Airways Express turboprops ruled the skies. Being from a non-aviation family made it harder for him to be around planes and would only spend about three hours a month at the airport. He was so excited when he could drive by himself and the first thing he did with the license was get ice cream and go plane spotting for the entire day. When he has the time (and money) he likes to take spotting trips to any location worth a visit. He’s currently enrolled at Western Michigan University earning a degree in Aviation Management and Operations.

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