Eight US-based airlines have received tentative approval to fly to Havana, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced Thursday.
The move – part of a broader effort to normalize relations between the US and Cuba – would give 10 US airports at least one weekly non-stop flight to the Cuban capital. The DOT approved 14 different daily routes to Havana and as well as one route that would get Saturday-only service. Flights are expected to begin in the fall of 2016.
Airlines must now wait for final approval from Cuba.
All existing charter flights will continue on an unlimited basis.
“Today we take another important step toward delivering on President Obama’s promise to reengage Cuba,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement revealing the routes. “Restoring regular air service holds tremendous potential to reunite Cuban American families and foster education and opportunities for American businesses of all sizes.”
The US cities 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 are Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, and United.
Cuba’s Regional Cities
Last month, the DOT approved a number of airlines to commence regular commercial service to Cuba in most of the island nation’s regional hubs.
According to the DOT order, American is approved to operate two daily flights between Miami and Holguin, Santa Clara and Varadero, and one daily flight between Miami and Camaguey and Cienfuegos. The Holguin and Santa Clara flights will be operated on a Boeing 737-800, and the Camaguey, Cienfuegos and Varadero flights will be operated on an Airbus A319.
Today, US charter flights pay Cuba landing fees of $73 to $148 per passenger, based on passenger age and whether passengers are traveling as individuals or as part of a tour group.
Cuba’s international landing fee in Havana’s is $4.89 per metric ton of aircraft. Charter flights typically use a 162-seat Boeing 737-800 with a maximum take-off weight of 79 metric tons — for a landing fee of about $390.
In February, US and Cuban governments signed a non-binding aviation arrangement that allows U.S.-based commercial flights to land and sets certain guidelines — including one prohibiting discriminatory fees.
In case you are fascinated by bi-lateral air transport agreements, here is the original one signed between Cuba and the US in 1953.