WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today proposed to award new scheduled U.S. carrier flights to Havana. The awards became possible when several U.S. carriers previously awarded Havana authority chose to return their awards. DOT’s order is now open for public comment by interested parties.
DOT asked carriers that applied in the case to rank their proposals, and DOT is tentatively awarding each passenger carrier applicant’s first-ranked choice for an award as follows:
- American Airlines from Miami, once daily
- Delta Air Lines from Miami, once daily
- JetBlue Airways from Fort Lauderdale, 6 times weekly (Sunday-Friday)
- JetBlue Airways from Boston, 1 time weekly (Saturday)
- Southwest Airlines from Fort Lauderdale, once daily
- United Airlines/Mesa Airlines from Houston, 6 times weekly (Sunday-Friday)
The Department’s principal objective in making its proposed selections was to maximize public benefits, including choosing carriers that offered and could maintain the best ongoing service between the United States and Havana. Through these proposed selections, DOT seeks to simultaneously address service needs while promoting competition.
Under an arrangement with Cuba signed in 2016, each country may operate up to 20 daily roundtrip flights between the United States and Havana. Several U.S. carriers that were awarded flights in 2016 have since returned them, and DOT is seeking to reallocate them to interested carriers. Because the applicants seek more opportunities than are available, DOT is conducting a proceeding to allocate the opportunities in a manner that will maximize public benefits.
Travelers to Cuba must fall under one of 12 categories authorized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. The Administration’s changes in Cuba policy do not alter DOT’s ability to authorize U.S. airlines to provide scheduled services between the United States and Cuba.
Objections to DOT’s tentative decision are due by April 16, 2018. If objections are filed, answers to objections will be due April 23, 2018. After considering all of the comments and responses, DOT will issue a final decision in the case. The tentative decision and other documents in the case are available at regulations.gov, docket DOT-OST-2016-0021.