WASHINGTON: June 10, 2016. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has granted American, Frontier, JetBlue, Silver, Southwest and Sun Country Airlines rights to begin scheduled services to Cuba from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis/St. Paul.
The DOT said it had decided to defer action on a seventh applicant, Eastern Air Lines, because the carrier has not completed the necessary licensing steps to conduct scheduled air transportation and is currently limited to operating charter flights. It added that “a number of carriers have questioned whether Eastern should be eligible to receive any scheduled Cuba authority”.
In announcing the traffic rights U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said: “Last year, President Obama announced that it was time to ‘begin a new journey’ with the Cuban people. Today, we are delivering on his promise by re-launching scheduled air service to Cuba after more than half a century.”
The nine Cuban cities to be served from various U.S. points are Camagüey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguín, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara, and Santiago de Cuba.
American said it wants to begin daily service within 90 days between Miami, Camagüey and Cienfuegos; and twice daily service between Miami and Holguin, Matanzas and Santa Clara.
Under the new agreement with Cuba, each country has 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.
The arrangement also provides for up to 20 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and Havana and as U.S. carriers have applied for nearly 60 flights per day to the city, the DOT will make a decision on who gets the rights “later this summer”.
The DOT announcement did not include a ruling on the application by FedEx to operate cargo services to Cuba.