GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba -- All U.S. military and civilian aircraft carrying humanitarian relief for Haiti will soon fly straight to this outpost from the United States, saving precious time by flying through Cuban airspace, U.S. officials said Friday.
From here, supplies will be relayed to the earthquake stricken nation through international air corridors.
The agreement, reached Friday between the Cuban and U.S. governments, built on an earlier week-old waiver from Havana that allowed a handful of medical evacuation flights from Guantánamo to bring U.S. citizens straight to Miami, rather than zigzag around Cuban soil.
The expansion of overflights starts Sunday. For now, all commercial and military flights from South Florida and elsewhere in the United States go around Cuba to reach this outpost on the island's southeastern tip.
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A Cold War legacy, denying the U.S. overflight rights, causes U.S. aircraft to burn more fuel by adding about an hour to each trip, depending on the size and load of the aircraft.
This remote Naval station has emerged as a key logistical hub for U.S. military and civilian relief reaching Haiti, serving as a resupply way station for U.S. ships off the coast and using Navy aircraft to bring relief supplies directly to the Port-au-Prince airport.
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