U.S. authorises 6 American carriers to start operating direct flights to Cuba

Posted: 11-Jun-16 08:15

Yesterday a bunch of American airlines were cheering on after the U.S. Department of Commerce finally approved regular direct flights between five U.S. cities and nine Cuban destinations. The news was greeted with excited anticipation by travellers and carriers alike even when flights aren't scheduled to take off until the start of autumn and the Cuban side is still to give the green light to the routes. In principle however, both Cuba and the U.S. had already signed an agreement last February to re-establish scheduled flights between both nations after more than half-a-century of hostility.

U.S. authorises 6 American carriers to start operating direct flights to Cuba

Last Friday, the news that all big U.S. airline companies were eagerly awaiting finally materialised as the Department of Transportation (DOT) and approved six carriers to start operating in Cuba with regular scheduled flights taking off as early as this upcoming autumn season.

JetBlue Airways, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Frontier, Silver Airways and Sun Country Airlines have all been given the green light to start flying with commercial routes to nine Cuban cities from five U.S. cities; namely Miami and Fort Laurderdale, Philadelphia, Chigaco and Minneapolis/St. Paul.

What are the Cuban cities these newly approved U.S. airlines will be flying to?

The answer is a varied bunch spanning the island’s entire length that doesn’t yet include Havana. Why isn’t Cuba’s capital included in the approved new routes? Well, as it turns out U.S. authorities are taking their time to award the biggest of prizes and authorised commercial services to Havana are yet to be announced.

Airlines will have to wait until later this summer for the DOT to reach a final decision. The underlying reason? Too many applications to go through, as American carriers have requested over 300 weekly flights to Havana, exceeding by far the 140 limit of flights that can be allowed.

In the meantime, the remainder of approved routes include the following Cuban cities: Santa Clara, Matanzas, Camaguey, Cienfuegos, Holguin, Manzanillo, Santiago de Cuba, Cayo Coco and Cayo Largo. Despite the fact that recreational tourism from the U.S. to Cuba is still forbidden under the U.S. embargo rules, this list includes three beach resort areas at the very least (seven of these cities offers access to beautiful beaches and four are famous for their sprawling beach resorts) which could be a hint that the announcement of the lifting of this rule could soon be on the cards, allowing Americans to once again legally enjoy Cuban beaches and beach resorts after more than 50 years.

For the time being U.S. travellers hopping on a plane to Cuba must still fall within the 12 approved categories for travel to Cuba, which range from educational and culturally-enriching trips to family visits and humanitarian people-to-people programmes created to foster engagement with the Cuban people.

A direct result of President Obama’s ongoing efforts to push on with the normalising of relations between Cuba and the U.S., putting an end to over half-a-century of animosity between the two neighbouring nations, this latest announcement delivers on what Obama promised last 17th December 2014.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx declared:

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

On their part, American Airlines has received approval for eight daily flights linking Miami to Santa Clara, Matanzas and Holguin with twice-daily routes and daily flights connecting Miami to Camaguey and Cienfuegos. The carrier hopes to start flying to Cuba by early September and revealed it plans to start selling tickets before the end of June. What American Airlines didn’t disclose is the price of tickets, but they said they will be competitive.

American Airlines’ Executive Vice-President of Corporate Affairs, Steve Johnson said:

“The resumption of scheduled air service to Cuba is a historic achievement and we commend Secretary Foxx and his team for making it a reality. We look forward to giving our customers direct access to Cuba and eagerly await the department’s decision on flights to Havana.”

In addition, American Airlines has also applied for a further 10 daily flights linking Miami to Havana, as well as new routes to Havana from Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Charlotte and Fort Worth. It’s a waiting game now to see if all these will get approval or which ones will.

All airlines got the non-Havana routes they asked for, with the exception of Eastern Airlines, who, according to the DOT had not completed all licensing procedures it needed to qualify.

Most of the approved carriers plan to start flying to Cuba this autumn and winter if they get the final go-ahead from the Cuban government. Regardless, all airlines must start their newly approved scheduled routes within 90 days of the dates they proposed on their applications.


Popular Holidays in cuba

OUR EXCLUSIVE DEALS AND LATEST OFFERS

Best Value

From £599 per person
villa pinares de mayari

Villa Pinares De Mayari

4.0 stars

Beautifully perched on the panoramic Mensura Hill, surrounded by striking greenery, this blessed and secluded natural...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £629 per person
villa mirador de mayabe

Villa Mirador De Mayabe

2.0 stars

This enchanting villa hotel is surrounded by exuberant tropical plants and is perfectly located in a high point towering...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £679 per person
sercotel club cayo guillermo

Sercotel Club Cayo Guillermo

3.0 stars

The perfect haven for lovers of nature in its purest state, the Villa Cojimar hotel sits in an idyllic location amidst...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £679 per person
club amigo atlantico guardalavaca

Club Amigo Atlantico Guardalavaca

3.0 stars

Get away to one of Cuba's best kept secrets for a dream holiday at Club Amigo Atlantico. Guardalavaca is known to host...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £679 per person
tryp cayo coco

Tryp Cayo Coco

4.0 stars

The perfect beach holiday awaits you the all-inclusive Tryp Cayo Coco hotel, where non-stop entertainment and utmost...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £699 per person
memories holguin

Memories Holguin

4.0 stars

Enjoy a perfect beach setting while you unwind in the historic sands of the all-inclusive Memories Holguin. A short...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation

More deals


Explore cuba your way

Tailor made cuba holidays

For those who prefer to travel at their own pace or to explore places not included in the brochure itineraries, we have years of experience at organising tailor-made holidays.

Create the perfect trip with the help of our specialists

Our expert tour consultants will be pleased to suggest ideas to complement your own and to organise the most appropiate programme to suit your interests, time and budget.

Call 0207 644 1600
to speak with our award-winning travel consultants.

If you would like a member of our team to contact you back, please click here Contact us