Are regular flights coming?
By the Cuba Journal staff
Following press reports that the Obama Administration was seeking to pave the way for regularly scheduled commercial flights between the US and Cuba by the end of the year, the State Department said it was “in contact with the Cuban Government regarding the establishment of scheduled air service.”
The question is whether scheduled air service can operate if the Cuban embargo remains in place, but the State Department seemed to suggest that flights could operate for the 12 categories of licensed travel to Cuba, even if full and unfettered to travel to Cuba remains prohibited.
“No decisions have yet been made, and of course, we seek to continue to have these technical discussions in the near future,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told a press briefing this week.
“No decisions have been made yet and that we’re going to remain in contact with the Cuban Government as we move forward,” he said in response to a question about the reports. “Normalization is going to take some time. But I think you heard Secretary Kerry talk about this when we were down in Havana on Friday. I mean, he noted a significant increase in travel to Cuba, over 35 percent increase. And he also talked about the – being able to reach an agreement to allow a resumption of scheduled air service would provide more options to facilitate authorized travel to Cuba, consistent with our policy of increasing people-to-people ties.”
An increasing number of air carriers have launched charter service to Cuba, including JetBlue and American Airlines, among others.
“Reaching an agreement to allow resumption of scheduled air service would allow – would provide more options than we currently have to facilitate that authorized travel to Cuba right now under those 12 categories,” Kirby said.