Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Les Dorr said United Flight 831, an Airbus A320, landed safely at Jose Marti Airport in Havana at 12:07 pm local time.
A United Airlines flight was diverted to Cuba on Sunday after its crew reported a strong odor in the plane, US aviation and airline spokesmen said.
The flight had left Washington Dulles airport, located in northern Virginia, just before 9:00 am, according to United’s website. It was supposed to land at 11:27 am in Cancun, Mexico.
“Crew members ‘noticed an unfamiliar smell in the cabin,'” said United Airlines spokesman Charlie Hobart. Dorr noted that the crew detected a burning smell, saying it was in the cockpit.
“In an abundance of caution, the pilots decided to land the aircraft in the nearest available airport,” Hobart said, explaining how the plane ended up in Cuba.
The aircraft had 135 passengers and f5 crew members – 2 pilots and 3flight attendants – on board.
It remained on the ground in the Caribbean nation as of 5:15 pm. Hobart said the airline is “working to reaccommodate our customers,” saying another plane was being ferried in from Cancun that will then take the passengers there.
Normally, there are tight restrictions on the travel of US citizens to the Communist state of Cuba, based on federal law.
United does not typically fly to Cuba.
Cuban airport and government officials contacted by the Associated Press had no immediate comment.
“We have nothing to inform,” said an operator who answered the phone at the airport.
No United aircraft could be seen Sunday evening from roads around the airport.
Although the United States and Cuba are bitter Cold War foes, Cuba has a tradition of hospitality and is a signatory to international aviation accords.
On the day of the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington, Havana offered to let the United States use its landing fields, because US airports were in a state of chaos. Washington did not take Cuba up on the offer.
There are frequent charter flights back and forth between the 2 countries, and a terminal in Havana is dedicated to receiving planes from the United States.