Obama administration pushes to add regular commercial flights to Cuba

Posted: 24-Aug-15 10:52

As the US and Cuba re-establish diplomatic bonds, the Obama administration wishes to take it one step further by side-stepping Congress restrictions and working to add commercial flights for all American citizens.

Obama administration pushes to add regular commercial flights to Cuba

Since Cuba and the US have re-opened their embassies and began to re-establish diplomatic ties, many American citizens wonder how soon normal travel will become available between the two countries.

The Obama administration, which announced on December 2014 its desire to leave behind old quarrels with Cuba, has now decided to take it to the next level by implementing new measures to add regular commercial flights to Cuba and allow all Americans to visit the country as individuals and not part of an arranged tour group.

Easier and more regular travel

Although American citizens would still need to fall into one of the 12 legal categories for travelling to Cuba, no special visa would be required for the trip. This bold move is trying to sidestep the numerous travel restrictions imposed by Congress, by changing regulations on an executive level.

The US government believes that more travel is the key to a harmonious and productive future. Secretary of State, John Kerry, who gave a speech at the flag raising ceremony in Havana last Friday, expressed that these new measure would contribute to this goal. Mr Kerry expressed:

"There is no question that the administration decision to do this is based on our notion that Americans getting to know Cubans and Cubans getting to know Americans. And really beginning to travel more and to be engaged is the way, in fact, that a transformation is going to be infected. And so if people want to be a part of that or not it is up to them. But we certainly think it is a fascinating time here and a fascinating time to be engaged."

Commercial flights would certainly be an upgrade on travel relations, as these would be regular and more direct than the existing charter flights which are arranged and organised by a specific tour operator. In order to make easier travel a reality, the Federal Aviation Administration and Cuban aviation authorities are already negotiating and the Treasury Department is considering new regulations that would permit any American citizens to travel to Cuba individually, without the need of third-party arrangers.

If these transformations run smoothly, this new aviation agreement would be effective by the end of 2015.

Other measures in progress

These changes are part of a group of new measures implemented by the Obama administration to engage in business with the Cuba once again. The US President plans to loosen credit restrictions to Cuba so they can buy U.S. products, especially food, and has given Cuban banks cover to allow the use of credit cards, two transformations that are still in progress.

The matter of the long-standing trade embargo has also been addressed as a bill was introduced in Congress to lift the numerous restrictions of this Cold War policy. By taking these steps, the current US government wishes to continue building the foundation of the renewed, peaceful ties between both countries.


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