The United States and Cuba have signed an agreement restoring commercial airline service between the two countries, as part of the Obama administration’s effort to normalize relations with the communist island nation.
“We are excited to announce the availability of new scheduled air service opportunities to Cuba for U.S. carriers, shippers, and the traveling public, and we will conduct this proceeding in a manner designed to maximize public benefits,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.
Foxx signed the agreement with Cuban officials Tuesday in Havana. The re-establishment of flights to Cuba comes nearly a year after the Obama administration began working to re-established diplomatic ties with Cuba.
According to the Department of Transportation, the agreement will allow up to 20 roundtrip flights between the U.S. and Havana each day. The DOT has invited U.S. airlines to apply so that the department can chose which carrier may offer flights and from where in the U.S.
Following the DOT’s announcement the Department of Homeland Security said it would begin a rule change to make Cuba flights the same as other international flights. Currently, charter flights from Cuba are required to land at airports authorized by Customs and Border Protection.
“We are executing on the President’s vision for our relationship with Cuba,” said Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorka said in a statement. “By eliminating an outdated regulation, we are removing a barrier to authorized travel and benefiting the people of our two nations.”