Here Are Current DOT Flight Details for New Air Service to Cuba

Here Are Current DOT Flight Details for New Air Service to Cuba

Overview of New Cuba Flights

On June 10, 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued an order authorizing six U.S. airlines to provide scheduled passenger flights between various U.S. cities and cities in Cuba other than Havana.flights to cuba

DOT’s order grants the applications of American, Frontier, JetBlue, Silver Airways, Southwest, and Sun Country. These carriers are now authorized to provide various services to Cuban cities other than Havana, from Miami, Chicago, Ft. Lauderdale, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis. A list of the carriers and routes approved can be found in the Q&A below.

These U.S.-Cuba opportunities are made available by an arrangement between the United States and Cuba that provides for the restoration of scheduled air services between the two countries. Under the terms of the non-legally-binding arrangement, DOT may allocate up to 20 daily round-trip frequencies for U.S. carrier scheduled passenger or all-cargo services between the U.S. and Havana. For scheduled passenger or all-cargo services to and from each of the other nine international airports in Cuba, DOT may allocate up to 10 daily round-trip frequencies at each airport, for a total of 90 daily non-Havana U.S.-Cuba round-trip frequencies.

The requests to serve non-Havana cities were all under the daily cap of 10 flights, and the applications approved by DOT were uncontested on the record.

The DOT expects to reach a final decision in the Havana carrier selection later this year.

The DOT did not approve the application of Eastern Airlines. Eastern’s current operating authority limits it to providing charter flights only. Furthermore, since Eastern’s eligibility to provide scheduled services is at issue in the larger Havana comparative selection proceeding, this order defers action on Eastern’s request until a decision is reached in the Havana context.

Q & A with the DOT

Q. Why did DOT issue this order, and what does it do?
A. On February 16, 2016, DOT invited U.S. carriers interested in providing scheduled U.S.-Cuba services to apply for the necessary authority and an allocation of the frequencies available for U.S. carrier scheduled services. 13 carriers filed applications for U.S.-Cuba authority, and seven of those 13 applied for authority to serve cities other than Havana. The requests to serve the non-Havana cities are all under the daily cap of 10 flights at each of the nine airports, and the applications approved by DOT were uncontested on the record.

Q. Which airlines will be flying from which U.S. cities to which Cuban cities, and how often?
A. The authorized airlines, routes, proposed frequency, and aircraft types are summarized in the tables below:

Schedule of Approved Flight Routes to Cuba

Schedule of US Approved Flight Routes to Cuba

Q. Why these cities and why these carriers?
A. Seven U.S. airlines applied to provide service to cities in Cuba other than Havana. With the exception of Eastern Airlines, DOT approved all of the route proposals in full. Eastern has not completed the licensing steps necessary to conduct scheduled passenger services, and DOT deferred action on its request at this time.

Q. Can airlines still apply?
A. Several opportunities remain available at each of the nine international airports in Cuba other than Havana. Airlines can apply to DOT for an allocation of the available rights at any time. Under the terms of the U.S.-Cuba arrangement, the DOT may allocate up to 10 daily round-trip frequencies for U.S. carrier scheduled passenger or all-cargo services between the United States and each of the nine international airports in Cuba, other than Havana, for a total of 90 daily non-Havana U.S.-Cuba round-trip frequencies.

Q. Why did DOT defer action on Eastern’s application?
A. Eastern Airlines has applied for both Havana and non-Havana scheduled authority, but it has not completed the licensing steps necessary to conduct scheduled passenger services. Eastern’s existing DOT authority limits it to providing charter flights only.
Several carriers have questioned whether Eastern should be eligible to receive any scheduled Cuba authority at this time. DOT said that in these circumstances, it believes the best approach is to defer for now action on Eastern’s request for non-Havana authority and consider the matter of Eastern’s eligibility for scheduled service in the context of the Havana proceeding. In the meantime, Eastern can continue to provide charter service to Cuba as it does now.

Q. When can I buy a ticket for a scheduled flight to Cuba?
A. The airlines authorized by DOT are now positioned to seek Cuban government authority and begin making the local arrangements necessary to launch their services. Most of the airlines propose to begin their services in the fall and winter of 2016/2017, and will likely begin selling tickets well in advance of their planned startup dates. (JetBlue will making the first flight to Cuba under this new authority on August 31, 2016.)

Q. How can I buy a ticket?
A. Most of the airlines propose to begin their services in the fall and winter of 2016/2017 and will likely begin selling tickets well in advance of their planned startup dates. Airlines will need to market and sell tickets consistent with the laws, regulations, and requirements that remain in affect concerning travel to Cuba. Travelers should check directly with the airlines for details.

Q. When will flights start?
A. The airlines have proposed varying startup dates for their services, but most are planned for fall and winter 2016/2017. DOT’s order contains requirements that the carriers begin their services within 90 days of the dates the airlines proposed in their applications. (JetBlue will making the first flight to Cuba under this new authority on August 31, 2016.).

Q. What opportunities are available under the U.S.-Cuba arrangement?
A. Under the terms of the U.S.-Cuba arrangement, the DOT may allocate up to 20 daily round-trip frequencies for U.S. carrier scheduled passenger or all-cargo services between the United States and Havana. For scheduled passenger or all-cargo services to and from each of the other nine international airports in Cuba, DOT may allocate up to 10 daily round-trip frequencies at each airport, for a total of 90 daily non-Havana U.S.-Cuba round-trip frequencies.

Q. Where can I find the text of the U.S.-Cuba arrangement?
A. The text of the arrangement can be found on the Department of State’s website at http://www.state.gov/e/eb/rls/othr/ata/c/cu/252525.htm.

Q. When will the Department reach a decision in the Havana carrier selection case?
A. U.S. carriers have collectively applied for nearly 60 flights per day to Havana, exceeding the 20 daily flights made available by the U.S.-Cuba arrangement. DOT is reviewing and analyzing the competing applications and will need to select from among them. We expect to reach a final decision sometime this summer on which carriers, and the markets they propose to serve, will be awarded the authority to conduct scheduled air service to Havana.

Q. What will happen to the current charter services between the U.S. and Cuba?
A. The arrangement allows for unlimited charter services to and from any point in Cuba, and the proceeding accordingly is not addressing charter services, which will continue as before. DOT’s sole focus in this proceeding is on the allocation of scheduled service frequencies.

Q. What are the nine non-Havana international airports in Cuba available for schedule services?
A. The nine airports, other than Havana’s José Marti International Airport, that are authorized for international services are: the Ignacio Agramonte International Airport in Camagüey; the Jardines del Rey Airport in Cayo Coco; the Vilo Acuña Airport in Cayo Largo; the Jaime González Airport in Cienfuegos; the Frank País Airport in Holguín; the Sierra Maestra Airport in Manzanillo; the Juan Gualberto Gómez Airport in Matanzas; the Abel Santamaría Airport in Santa Clara; and the Antonio Maceo Airport in Santiago de Cuba.

Q. How will these new services be impacted by the remaining laws and regulations pertaining to Cuba travel?
A. While the new arrangement reflects a major step forward in President Obama’s policy of engagement with Cuba, the Department recognizes that significant limitations and requirements remain in place concerning air transportation between Cuba and the United States. For example, travel for tourist activities remains prohibited by statute. Any award of authority in this proceeding will not relieve parties from complying with the applicable requirements and regulations of other U.S. agencies, and with all applicable laws of the United States.

Q. Does this order mean that I can travel to Cuba as a tourist?
A. No. While the new arrangement reflects a major step forward in President Obama’s policy of engagement with Cuba, the Department recognizes that significant limitations and requirements remain in place concerning air transportation between Cuba and the United States. For example, travel for tourist activities remains prohibited by statute. Any award of authority in this proceeding will not relieve parties from complying with the applicable requirements and regulations of other U.S. agencies, and with all applicable laws of the United States. This new arrangement will facilitate visits for travelers that fall under one of 12 categories authorized by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Prospective travelers should also review OFAC’s Frequently Asked Questions Related to Cuba.

Q. How do I certify that I fall under one of the 12 approved categories for travel to Cuba?
A. Travelers are encouraged to check with the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and can find valuable information on their website at the link below:
https://www.treasury.gov/about/organizational-structure/offices/Pages/Office-of-Foreign-Assets-Control.aspx
The U.S. airlines authorized to serve Cuba may also have information on their websites to help prospective ticket buyers determine whether they are eligible for travel.

Q. Do I need a visa to travel to Cuba?
A. Travelers are encouraged to check with the U.S. Department of State, and can find valuable information on their website at http://www.travel.state.gov (Note: Airlines have been authorized to issue Cuban tourist cards for travel to Cuba for up to 30 days)

Q. What are the rules about importing items from Cuba, including cigars?
A. Significant limitations and requirements remain in place concerning air transportation and travel between the United States and Cuba. Travelers are encouraged to check with applicable U.S. Government agencies to ensure their travel plans comply with regulations and requirements of those agencies, and with applicable laws of the United States. Such agencies include, but are necessarily limited to, the Departments of Commerce, Homeland Security, State, and Treasury. Information on U.S. Government and Cuban Government requirements can be found at the Department of State’s website at the link below.
https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/cuba.html

Q. Is there anything I’m not allowed to bring into Cuba?
A. Significant limitations and requirements remain in place concerning air transportation and travel between the United States and Cuba. Travelers are encouraged to check with applicable U.S. Government agencies to ensure their travel plans comply with regulations and requirements of those agencies, and with applicable laws of the United States. Such agencies include, but are necessarily limited to, the Departments of Commerce, Homeland Security, State, and Treasury.

Source: US government

Here Are Current DOT Flight Details for New Air Service to Cuba was last modified: August 31st, 2016 by Cuba Journal

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