The first direct flight from the Washington DC area to Cuba landed in Havana on 30 September, connecting the capital cities as their countries advance toward restoring scheduled airline service.

The charter flight will take passengers directly from Baltimore, 38 miles north of Washington, DC, to Havana in about three hours. US tourist Jordan Levine said he was excited to visit the country which, for so long, had been off-limits.

"It is fantastic. We are so happy to see the Cuban culture, Cuban food, meet the Cuban people. It´s an easy flight, three hours from Baltimore, and this is a first so we are excited to see what we are going to see tonight and tomorrow, and we´ll leave Sunday," he said, after arriving at Jose Marti International Airport.

US tourist Andrew Reymer said the flight was particularly convenient for residents of the Washington DC area who, up to now, had to change flights in New York or Miami.

"Especially those Americans living in the Northeast, who are near Washington DC., and New York City and Philadelphia, it makes it very convenient for us to come to Havana directly from Baltimore," he said.

The flight comes one day after Cuba and the United States held two days of talks toward restoring scheduled airline service, with the potential to reach a deal this year, a US official said.

The two sides planned to meet again, possibly before the end of this year and most likely in Washington, the official said.

General US tourism to Cuba is banned by the US trade embargo of Cuba but certain Americans are allowed to go on specially sanctioned travel.

US President Barack Obama has relaxed those restrictions, leading to a boom in US citizen travel to Cuba, which is up more than 60 percent this year with 106,607 Americans arriving as of 20 September.

The market would grow further if the US Congress were to lift either the tourism ban or the embargo.