On July 7 the US Department of Transport (DOT) moved closer to delivering on President Obama’s promise to re-engage with Cuba by restoring scheduled air services to the nation’s capital and largest city.
The DOT proposed to select eight US airlines to begin scheduled flights between Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, Orlando, and Tampa and Havana as early as this autumn.
The DOT issued a statement saying: “Having regular air service for the first time in more than 50 years holds great potential – Cuban American families will be reunited and it will foster education and opportunities for American businesses of all sizes.”
Following the US – Cuba deal to re-establish scheduled air services, 12 US airlines applied for the chance to operate scheduled passenger services to Havana and it has received applications to operate nearly 60 flights per day to the Cuban capital, exceeding the 20 daily flights made available by the arrangement between the two governments.
The DOT said its main objective in making its proposed selections was to maximise public benefits, including choosing airlines that offered and could maintain the best ongoing service between the US and Havana. The proposed non-stop Havana routes provide service for cities with substantial Cuban-American populations, and to important aviation hub cities with their convenient connections and competitive ticket prices.
In addition, the Department aimed to offer the public a wide array of travel choices in the type of airline – such as network, low-cost, or ultra-low-cost – as well as the choice of airport and of non-stop or connecting service.
The airlines receiving the tentative awards are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and United Airlines.
Many US airlines are already gearing up to begin scheduled service to Cuba. The July 7 announcement follows the DOT’s approval last month of six US airlines’ applications to serve cities other than Havana.
A DOT statement said: “We expect to reach a final decision this summer, and most of the airlines propose to begin their services in the fall and winter of 2016/2017.”
Tourism is not one of the pre-approved reasons for travel between the United States and Cuba. Approved reasons include; visiting family, religious reasons, educational and or cultural exchanges.