Six US airlines get approval to fly to Cuba

The Department of Transportation (DOT) on Friday announced that six commercial U.S. airlines were approved to begin flying to Cuba this fall as part of the normalizing of relations with that country.
The airlines that have been awarded service by the DOT are American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines and Sun Country Airlines.
Beginning as early as this fall, passengers will be able to travel to Cuba from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Philadelphia and Minneapolis/St. Paul.
“Last year, President Obama announced that it was time to ‘begin a new journey’ with the Cuban people,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Today, we are delivering on his promise by re-launching scheduled air service to Cuba after more than half a century.”
An agreement to re-establish scheduled air service between the U.S. and Cuba was signed in February by Foxx and Charles Rivkin, assistant secretary for economic and business affairs at the State Department.
The DOT said that 13 carriers filed applications for U.S.-Cuba flights prompting lawmakers to compete for routes to Cuba for airlines and airports in their districts.
Each carrier can operate up to 10 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and each of Cuba’s nine international airports besides Havana.
With up to 20 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and Havana up for grabs, the DOT said that a decision on those routes will be announced later this summer.
Tourists are still not eligible to fly to Cuba, but the new routes will open up travel for family visits, official U.S. government business, foreign governments, journalistic activity, professional research, educational activities, religious activities, public performances, humanitarian projects and certain authorized export transactions.
“It makes no sense that Americans will soon be able to go online and book a flight to Cuba, but U.S. policy will still prohibit tourist travel to our island neighbor,” said James Williams, president of Engage Cuba. “Today’s announcement further proves that the travel ban is an outdated relic of the Cold War era. It’s time for Congress to act and end the travel ban.”

JetBlue reacted to the announcement today by signalling its intent to fly roundtrip daily from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) to the Cuban cities of Santa ClaraAbel Santamaría Airport (SNU), Camagüey Ignacio Agramonte Airport (CMW), and Holguín Frank País Airport (HOG).