Proposed U.S. Airlines and Cities for New Scheduled Service to Havana, Cuba Announced
Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and United Airlines have received tentative approval
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has proposed to select eight U.S. airlines to begin scheduled flights to Havana, Cuba from Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, Orlando, and Tampa as early as this fall.
The USDOT proposal allocates nonstop Havana service to areas of substantial Cuban-American population, as well as to important aviation hub cities. The proposal comes nearly one year after the United States and Cuba reestablished diplomatic relations in July 2015.
"Today 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."
According to the USDOT, a dozen U.S. airlines applied for the chance to operate scheduled passenger and cargo service between the U.S. and Havana. Collectively, the airlines applied for nearly 60 flights per day to Havana, exceeding the 20 daily flights made available by arrangement between the two governments. The USDOT says that its principal objective in making its proposed selections was to maximize public benefits, including choosing airlines that offered and could maintain the best ongoing service between the U.S. and Havana.
The airlines receiving the tentative approval for service to Havana are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and United Airlines.
The USDOT says that its process of selecting carriers offers an opportunity to present the public with a wide array of travel choices in the type of airline (network, low-cost, ultra-low-cost); choices of airport; and choices of non-stop or connecting service.
On February 16, 2016, Secretary Foxx and Department of State Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Charles Rivkin signed an arrangement with their Cuban counterparts opening the way for scheduled air service between the two countries to resume after more than 50 years. This new arrangement will facilitate visits for travelers that fall under one of 12 categories authorized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.
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. The USDOT announced the approval of six U.S. airlines' applications to serve cities other than Havana on June 10.
The USDOT's full proposal and other documents relating to new air service to Cuba can be viewed at regulations.gov, search for docket DOT-OST-2016-0021. Any objections to the proposal must be submitted by July 22, 2016. The USDOT expects to finalize its decision later this summer.