United States and Cuba Agree to Restore Air Service

DOT has launched a process to award new flights, and the airlines are lining up to apply.

The U.S. and Cuba have signed an agreement that provides the re-establishment of scheduled air service between the two countries. After signing the agreement, the DOT invited air carriers to apply for an allocation of new opportunities to schedule passenger and cargo flights, according to a DOT report. And the line of waiting airlines is already long. American Airlines, Delta, and United all announced Feb. 16 that they will apply for approval to provide commercial service to and from Cuba, and Southwest posted a statement saying it will consider applying.

"We are excited to announce the availability of new scheduled air service opportunities to Cuba for U.S. carriers, shippers, and the traveling public, and we will conduct this proceeding in a manner designed to maximize public benefits," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. The arrangement will provide each country with the opportunity to have up to 20 daily round-trip flights to Havana, as well as the opportunity to have up to 10 daily round-trip flights between the United States and Cuba's nine other international airports.

American Airlines, which operated about 1,200 charter flights to Cuba last year, said its Latin America gateway hub at Miami International Airport will be included in the company's application for scheduled service to Cuba and that it may apply to serve Cuba from other hubs. Delta Air Lines also announced it will file with the U.S. government to operate non-stop service to Cuba.

"American Airlines commends the U.S. government for its commitment to re-establishing cultural and economic ties between the U.S. and Cuba, and for laying the groundwork to restore scheduled air service between the two countries for the first time in more than 50 years," said American Chairman and CEO Doug Parker. "We applaud the administration for making commercial air service a priority and we thank Secretary Foxx, Secretary Kerry, and their teams for their leadership in finalizing this arrangement. American looks forward to submitting a Cuba service proposal to the Department of Transportation in the coming weeks."

"Filing for service to Havana is an important moment in aviation history for Delta and between the U.S. and Cuba,” said Nicolas Ferri, Delta's vice president - Latin America and the Caribbean. "We look forward to providing access to the island from the U.S. and around the world; this market will increase the strength of our network in the Caribbean."

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