The first commercial flight between the US and Cuba in more than a half century landed today in the central city of Santa Clara, re-establishing regular air service severed at the height of the Cold War.

Cheers broke out in the cabin of JetBlue flight 387 as the plane touched down.

Passengers – mostly airline executives, US government officials and journalists, with a sprinkling of Cuban-American families and US travelers – were given gift bags with Cuban cookbooks, commemorative luggage tags and Cuban flags, which they were encouraged to wave for the TV cameras at the tarmac.

The arrival opens a new era of US-Cuba travel with about 300 flights a week connecting the US with an island cut off from most Americans by the 55-year-old trade embargo on Cuba and formal ban on US citizens engaging in tourism on the island.

"Seeing the American airlines landing routinely around the island will drive a sense of openness, integration and normality. That has a huge psychological impact," said Richard Feinberg, author of the new book "Open for Business: Building the New Cuban Economy." 

The restart of commercial travel between the two countries is one of the most important steps in President Barack Obama’s two-year-old policy of normalizing relations with the island. Historians disagree on the exact date of the last