WASHINGTON – As part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has approved six domestic airlines to begin scheduled flights between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis/St. Paul and Cuba as early as this fall.
“Last year, President Obama announced that it was time to ‘begin a new journey’ with the Cuban people,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Today, we are delivering on his promise by re-launching scheduled air service to Cuba after more than half a century.”
On February 16, 2016, Secretary Foxx and Department of State Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Charles Rivkin signed a non-legally-binding arrangement to re-establish scheduled air service between the two countries. At the time of the signing, the administration announced that scheduled service would begin later in 2016.
The carriers receiving the awards are American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines, and Sun Country Airlines.
The five U.S. cities that will receive new scheduled service to Cuba are Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Philadelphia. The nine Cuban cities are Camagüey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguín, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara, and Santiago de Cuba.
Under the new arrangement, each country has the opportunity to operate up to 10 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and each of Cuba’s nine international airports, other than Havana, for a total of 90 daily roundtrips. Longer term, the arrangement also provides for up to 20 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and Havana. 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.
Interested parties may view the DOT’s decision, track the progress of the case, and view the publicly available documents online at regulations.gov, Docket DOT-OST-2016-0021.
A fact sheet on this issue may be found here.