Six US Airlines Set to Begin Scheduled Flights to Cuba

Approval part of normalizing relations between the two countries

 A Boeing 737 comes in for a landing at Ronald Reagan National Airport. (CQ Roll Call file photo)
 A Boeing 737 comes in for a landing at Ronald Reagan National Airport. (CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted June 10, 2016 at 11:19am

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Friday six U.S. airlines may begin scheduled flights to Cuba in the fall.

American, Frontier, JetBlue, Silver, Southwest and Sun Country received the approval to fly from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis-St. Paul airports.

Nine Cuban cities will be served:  Camaguey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguin, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara, and Santiago de Cuba.

Foxx said the approval is part of normalizing relations with Cuba.

“Last year, President Obama announced that it was time to ‘begin a new journey’ with the Cuban people,” Foxx said in a statement on Friday.  “Today, we are delivering on his promise by relaunching scheduled air service to Cuba after more than half a century.”

Foxx and other officials signed an arrangement to re-establish air service between the U.S. and Cuba in February. At that time, the Transportation Department invited U.S. air carriers to apply for opportunities to provide scheduled passenger service and cargo flights.  

Both countries will each be able to operate up to 10 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and each of Cuba’s nine international airports, other than Havana, for a total of 90 daily roundtrips, according to the Transportation Department.  

Up to 20 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and Havana will ultimately be allowed. A decision on those is expected within a few months.  

The Obama Administration announced that it intended to re-establish diplomatic relations with the island nation and start a process of normalization in 2014.   

“Neither the American, nor Cuban people are well served by a rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born,” President Barack Obama said in December 2014.   

The U.S. has since removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism and the two countries reopened embassies in each other’s capitals in July. Obama made a historic trip to the Communist-ruled island in March, the first visit by an American president since the 1959 Cuban revolution. 

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