US Department of Transportation tentatively approves flights from US to Havana

Posted: 11-Jul-16 08:57

Havana had been left out of the equation this June, when the US Department of Transportation (DOT) gave six US airlines the green light to start operating regular flights to the island. Today, the DOT announced Cuba's capital would be within its list of destinations; delightful news for the airlines involved and for American citizens who would have had to rely on charter flights to reach the island's most important city.

US Department of Transportation tentatively approves flights from US to Havana

Since President Obama announced his intention of re-establishing diplomatic bonds with Cuba, on December 2014, many transformations have taken place to bring the two countries closer together. Embassies were opened in Havana and Washington D.C, travelling restrictions were loosened for American citizens and mutual cooperation in diverse areas like science, agriculture and education began.

The efforts to normalize the relationship have not stopped since, and the most recent developments include the US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) approval of regular flight services to Cuba. Last month, the DOT had already ruled in favour of allowing six US airlines to operate regularly-scheduled flights to the island. This approval comprised destinations like Santa Clara and Camaguey, but Havana had been put on hold.

Nonetheless, this alarming concern was cleared today as the DOT announced Havana within its list of destinations. According to the Department’s press release this proposal still needs further confirmation before the routes are official and fares are released, but a final decision will probably be reached as soon as this autumn.

In order to “present the public with a wide array of travel choices” the DOT tentatively approved eight airlines (two more than those announced in June), ranging from low-cost carriers to big flying companies: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines and United Airlines.

Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, Orlando and Tampa compose the ten US cities airplanes will be landing and taking off from. Each one was carefully selected to ensure the best possible flight service – cities like Los Angeles, New York and Atlanta are metropolitan hubs that allow for connecting flights all over the country, whilst Miami and Tampa are home to a large number of Cuban-Americans with strong demand of visiting the island.

Anthony Foxx, U.S Transportation Secretary stated the political implications of such a historic event that marked a new beginning after 50 years of hostility:

“Today we take another important step toward delivering on President Obama’s promise to reengage Cuba. Restoring regular air service holds tremendous potential to reunite Cuban American families and foster education and opportunities for American businesses of all sizes.”

Many people are excited to hear about regular flight service (with Havana included) tentatively being approved and beginning soon. The Mayor of Newark, Ras J. Baraka joins the cheerful spirit of the news:

“United (Airlines) service enables the nearly 80,000 Cuban-Americans living in New Jersey—along with many more Americans throughout the largest metropolitan area in the country—new travel choices and business development opportunities. Today is an exciting day for people who want the opportunity and better options to visit Cuba.”

In addition to the Obama administration loosening travel restrictions and announcing 12 legal categories of travel to the island, this approval promises even more efficient travel to Cuba. Visiting the island is today a far more realistic possibility for Americans. A promising future lies ahead for travel between Cuba and the US.


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