The US Department of Transportation (DOT) approved FedEx’s uncontested application to become the first all-cargo airline to provide scheduled flights to Cuba.
FedEx has thus far been the only all-cargo carrier to seek scheduled authority to Cuba. Beginning January 15, 2017, the company will commence once-daily Monday through Friday service between Miami, Florida and Matanzas, Cuba.
On February 16, 2016, Secretary Foxx signed an arrangement with the Cuban government to re-establish scheduled air service between the two countries after more than 50 years. Under the new arrangement, each country has the opportunity to operate up to 20 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and Havana, and up to 10 daily round trip flights between the U.S. and each of Cuba’s other nine international airports.
DOT’s award of non-Havana authority to FedEx is in addition to DOT’s June 10th approval of six U.S. airlines to begin scheduled combination services to Cuban cities outside Havana. All of these non-Havana applications were uncontested.
Last month, the express delivery giant dropped its bid to operate to Havana. The company also said it would use a Cessna 208 aircraft, which is far smaller than the Boeing 757 it initially proposed for the Miami-Havana route.
Using Varadero as the base of initial operations, “would be the more optimal use of its resources under current Cuba marketplace conditions,” it added in the amended application.
Direct Passenger Flights Spread Across the US
In a related development, eight US-based airlines received tentative approval to fly to Havana, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced earlier this month.
The move – part of a broader effort to normalize relations between the US and Cuba – would give ten 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.
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.