Eight U.S. airlines have received approval to begin daily flights to Havana, according to a Department of Transportation announcement. This opens up Cuba's capital city to scheduled commercial flights from the United States, which previously were off limits, and allows 110 round-trip flights a week between the United States and Cuba, 20 per week to Havana.
Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and United Airlines received the green light from the U.S. government to begin flights to Havana. There is a two-week waiting period until this approval is completely finalized, after which the airlines can begin selling flights. The soonest that planes will begin the U.S.-to-Havana route will likely be late October.
"Today we take another important step toward delivering on President Obama's promise to re-engage 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 published reports, there will be six direct flights to Havana from Miami each day and three flights from the New York metropolitan area. Delta Air Lines and JetBlue will each offer a daily flight from Kennedy International Airport, and United won a route from Newark.
Other Havana flights will originate from Fort Lauderdale and Tampa, Florida, Atlanta and Houston. Spirit Airlines and Southwest Airlines also won routes. Applications for the Havana routes from four small airlines—Silver Airways, Dynamic International Airways, Eastern Air Lines and Sun Country Airlines—were not approved.
U.S. to Cuba air travel began to open up on February 16, according to the DOT timeline, when 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 facilitated visits for travelers that fall under one of the 12 categories authorized for People-to-People visits by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.
Under the initial arrangement, each country was allowed to operate up to 20 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and Havana. The arrangement also provided each country with the opportunity to operate up to 10 daily round-trip flights between the U.S. and each of Cuba's nine international airports, other than Havana, for a total of 90 daily roundtrips.
On June 10, the DOT approved flights to nine Cuban cities—Camaguey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguin, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara and Santiago de Cuba—but Havana remained off limits. The airlines approved for those routes were American, Frontier, JetBlue, Silver, Southwest and Sun Country, departing from Miami, Chicago, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
American Airlines announced at the time that it would immediately begin selling tickets for flights to those cities; the airline's first flights are slated to begin on September 7. (American Airlines also has a sales promotion for those routes in effect until July 11).
To date, there has been no announcement from Cuba's national airlines, Cubana, when or if they will begin flights to the United States.