As part of the Obama Administration’s overall effort to normalize relations, six U.S. airlines are now cleared for takeoff to Cuba, with the flights coming from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Philadelphia and Minneapolis/St. Paul.
The Department of Transportation approved American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines and Sun Country Airlines to offer flights between the two nations. The flights could be available by the end of summer, and will be departing from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis/St. Paul.
Friday’s approval re-establishes air service between the United States and Cuba for the first time in more than five decades.
“Last year, President Obama announced that it was time to ‘begin a new journey’ with the Cuban people,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Today, we are delivering on his promise by relaunching scheduled air service to Cuba after more than half a century.”
This past March, President Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928.
The nine Cuban cities where flights will now be made to and from are Camagüey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguín, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara and Santiago de Cuba.
Roundtrip flights that can operate between the US and those nine Cuba international airports are limited to ten per day, for a total of 90. Once flight applications to Havana are approved later this summer, up to 20 roundtrips per day will be allowed between the US and Cuba’s capital city.
JetBlue customers can start booking flights this summer, as the company announced it plans Friday to offer a daily flight out of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to three Cuban cities.
Still waiting for approval to operate ten daily flights from Miami, Charlotte, Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles to Havana, American Airlines plans to start offering flights to five Cuban cities out of Miami in September.
U.S. travelers still need approval to travel to Cuba. The government has established 12 travel categories that allow Americans to visit the island nation, including family visits, humanitarian projects and public performances and religious and educational activities.