According to a report in the Miami Herald, American Airlines and JetBlue have received final approval from the Cuban government to begin commercial airline service to several airports on the island.
JetBlue, with a flight scheduled to Santa Clara from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Aug. 31, will be the first regularly scheduled flight to Cuba in more than 50 years.
Airlines must receive approval from both governments prior to commencing service to Cuba.
American Airlines will follow up the next week with commercial airline service from Miami International Airport beginning September 7th.
At this point, JetBlue has only received the green light for its flights to Santa Clara, but it also hopes to begin service to Holguín and Camagüey in November. Havana flights have yet to be approved.
American, which plans twice-daily flights to Holguín, Santa Clara and Varadero and daily fights to Camagüey and Cienfuegos, has received Cuban government approval to land and take off from all five Cuban airports. In all, it will be offering 56 weekly flights to Cuba.
American, JetBlue and other airlines have applied to the US Department of Transportation to fly 20 daily routes to Havana, but so far DOT has only granted preliminary approval for the routes. Final DOT approval is expected later this year, and then Cuba’s Civil Aviation Institute must also give its OK.
Existing charter flights will continue at the discretion of the charter companies themsleves. “We don’t believe charter companies will be able to compete with the major carriers,” said Michael Zuccato, general manager at Cuba Travel Services, earlier this month. “We will stop operating charters from Tampa on a scheduled basis in early September. We’re still working on an exact date.”
The US cities that are part of the applications to fly directly to Cuba are: Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; Houston; Los Angeles; Newark, New Jersey; New York; and four in Florida — Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Tampa.
The airlines that have applied include: Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, and United.