The US Department of Transportation (DOT) granted eight US airlines permission to commence up to 20 scheduled daily flights between various U.S. cities and Havana.
Six months ago the U.S. and Cuba signed an agreement to re-establish scheduled air service between the two countries after nearly 60 years of restricted charter air service. Yesterday’s announcement comes nearly two months after six US airlines were granted permission to fly to nine Cuban cities other than Havana.
The DOT’s decision requires that carriers begin services within 90 days of the final order’s issue date.
For scheduled passenger or all-cargo services to and from each of the nine non-Havana international airports in Cuba, DOT may allocate up to 10 daily round-trip frequencies at each airport, for a total of 90 daily flights. Including Havana, the total number of daily flights between the U.S. and Cuba can be 110.
DOT said its principal objective was “to maximize public benefits, including choosing airlines that offered and could maintain the best service between the US and Havana.”
“[The] decision allocates nonstop Havana service to areas with substantial Cuban-American populations, as well as to several aviation hub cities,” DOT said.
The airlines and routes to Havana approved by DOT are:
- Alaska Airlines, which will operate a 1X-daily flight from Los Angeles;
- American Airlines, which will operate 4X-daily service from Miami and a 1X-daily flight from Charlotte, North Carolina;
- Delta Air Lines, which will operate 1X-daily service to Havana from each of three cities: New York-JFK, Atlanta and Miami;
- Frontier Airlines, which will operate 1X-daily service from Miami;
- JetBlue Airways, which will operate 2X-daily service from Fort Lauderdale, Florida (excluding Saturday, which will be 1X-daily) and 1X-daily service from both New York-JFK and Orlando, Florida;
- Southwest Airlines, which will operate 2X-daily service from Fort Lauderdale and1X-daily service from Tampa, Florida;
- Spirit Airlines, which will operate 2X-daily service from Fort Lauderdale; and
- United Airlines, which will operate 1X-daily service from Newark, New Jersey and 1X-weekly service (Saturday) from Houston.
U.S. citizens are allowed to travel to Cuba only if they self-certify that their visit falls under one of 12 categories authorized by the US Department of the Treasury. Travel for “tourist activities” remains prohibited by statute. It is generally considered to be easy to comply with at least one of the 12 categories, including the “people-to-people” category, for cultural exchange.
“Today’s actions are the result of months of work by airlines, cities, the U.S. government and many others toward delivering President’s Obama’s promise to reengage with Cuba,” DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “Transportation has a unique role in this historic initiative and we look forward to the benefits these new services will provide to those eligible for Cuba travel.”
Secretary Foxx traveled on JetBlue’s Aug. 31 flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Santa Clara, Cuba. It was the first scheduled commercial flight from the US to Cuba in almost 60 years.
Here are the approved non-Havana travel routes: