U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Final Selection of U.S. Airlines and Cities for New Service to Havana
Traveling to Havana, Cuba is soon expected to become much easier with the recent announcement made by the U.S Department of Transportation (DOT). As part of the Obama Administration’s historic effort to normalize relations with Cuba, the DOT proposed to select eight U.S. 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 fall. The proposal came nearly one year after the United States and Cuba reestablished diplomatic relations in July 2015 and today, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) finalized its selection of eight U.S. airlines to begin scheduled flights to Havana. All routes are subject to Cuban regulatory approval.
“We take another important step toward delivering on President Obama’s promise to reengage Cuba,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Restoring regular air service holds tremendous potential to reunite Cuban American families and foster education and opportunities for American businesses of all sizes.”
The airlines receiving the awards are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and United Airlines. DOT’s proposal allocates nonstop Havana service to areas of substantial Cuban-American population, as well as to important aviation hub cities.
Under the arrangement, each country may operate up to 20 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and Havana. The arrangement also provides each country with the opportunity to operate up to 10 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and each of Cuba’s nine international airports, other than Havana, for a total of 90 daily roundtrips.
There are numerous logistical details involved in flying to a country that has not allowed scheduled commercial U.S. travel in more than five decades. The United States travel embargo currently does not allow Americans to visit Cuba strictly for tourism – U.S. citizens are permitted to travel to Cuba if they fall under 12 approved categories, such as family visits, education, journalism and humanitarian projects.
The U.S. Treasury Department allows travel for the following activities:
- Family visits.
- Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations.
- Journalistic activity.
- Professional research and professional meetings.
- Educational activities.
- Religious activities.
- Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions.
- Support for the Cuban people.
- Humanitarian projects.
- Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes.
- Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials.
- Certain authorized export transactions
Following today’s announcement, airlines are able to open up reservations for flights as early as this fall. For specific airline details, visit the respective airline website.
Alaska will operate one daily flight to José Martí International Airport (HAV) in Havana – one from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The flight will originate in Seattle, offering through service between Seattle and Havana.
American will operate five daily flights to José Martí International Airport (HAV) in Havana – four from Miami International Airport (MIA) and one from Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT).
Additionally, American will inaugurate scheduled service to five other Cuban cities in September, with the first flights departing Miami for Cienfuegos and Holguin on Sept. 7. Scheduled service from Miami to Camaguey and Santa Clara will begin on Sept. 9, and from Miami to Varadero on Sept. 11.
Delta will operate three daily flights to José Martí International Airport (HAV) in Havana – one from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), one from Miami International Airport (MIA) and one from Atlanta International Airport (ATL).
Frontier will operate one daily flight to José Martí International Airport (HAV) in Havana – one from Miami International Airport (MIA).
JetBlue will operate four daily* flights to José Martí International Airport (HAV) in Havana – one from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), one from Orlando International Airport (MCO) and two (*one daily flight on Saturdays) from Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL).
Southwest will operate three daily flights to José Martí International Airport (HAV) in Havana – one from Tampa International Airport (TPA), and two from Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL).
Spirit will operate two daily flights to José Martí International Airport (HAV) in Havana – two from Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL).
United will operate two flights to José Martí International Airport (HAV) in Havana – one daily from New York’s Newark International Airport (EWR) and one weekly (Saturday only) from Houston’s Intercontinental International Airport (IAH).