Six U.S. Airlines to Begin Flights to and from Cuba

Passengers walk across the tarmac at Jose Marti International Airport after arriving on a charter plane operated by American Airlines January 19, 2015 in Havana, Cuba.
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Six U.S. airlines will soon be offering round-trip flights to Cuba from cities across the country.

The Department of Transportation has approved American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines, and Sun Country Airlines to begin scheduled flights between the U.S. and Cuba starting as early as this fall.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the commencement of airline services Friday. The move is part of the Obama administration’s effort to normalize relations with the island nation.

“Last year, President Obama announced that it was time to ‘begin a new journey’ with the Cuban people,” said Foxx in a statement. “Today, we are delivering on his promise by re-launching scheduled air service to Cuba after more than half a century.”

Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis/St. Paul will all be receiving the new scheduled service to Cuba, as will nine Cuban cities to the U.S., including Camagüey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguín, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara, and Santiago de Cuba.

Under the agreement reached by Foxx an Department of State Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Charles Rivkin with Cuba to restore airline service, each country will be able to operate up to 10 roundtrip flights between the U.S. and each of the nine Cuban cities for a total of 90 daily flights.

“Longer term, the arrangement also provides for up to 20 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and Havana,” the Transportation Department added in a release. “Collectively, U.S. carriers have requested nearly 60 flights per day to Havana, thus requiring DOT to select from among the proposals.  A decision on the Havana routes will be announced later this summer.”

While airline travel has been restored travel to Cuba as a tourist is still prohibited, only travelers who fit under 12 authorized categories are allowed to make the trip, like family visits; official government business, journalism, professional meetings, education, and athletic competitions.