The Department of Transportation today announced its nominees to operate nonstop flights to Havana, Cuba. In all, eight airlines were approved for service to Havana from 10 U.S. airports, as follows:
- Alaska Airlines – from Los Angeles (daily)
- American – from Miami (4x daily) and Charlotte (daily)
- Delta – from New York (daily), Atlanta (daily), and Miami (daily)
- Frontier – from Miami (daily)
- JetBlue – from Ft. Lauderdale (2x daily but 1x on Saturdays), New York (daily), and Orlando (daily)
- Southwest – from Ft. Lauderdale (2x daily) and Tampa (daily)
- Spirit – from Ft. Lauderdale (2x daily)
- United – from Ft. Lauderdale (daily) and Houston (1x weekly)
According to the DOT, the selections were made to “maximize public benefits, including choosing airlines that offered and could maintain the best ongoing service between the U.S. and Havana. The proposed nonstop Havana routes provide service for cities with substantial Cuban-American population, and to important aviation hub cities with their convenient connections and competitive service.”
The airlines and other interested parties have until July 22 to comment on the DOT’s proposed allocation of flights, which should be finalized before summer’s end. Thereafter, authorization from the Cuban government must also be received, with Havana flights expected to begin operating as early as this fall.
Last month, the DOT approved services by six U.S. carriers to nine smaller cities in Cuba, also set to launch in the fall.
Notwithstanding the reestablishment of scheduled air service between the two countries, significant restrictions on Americans’ travel to Cuba remain in place. In particular, tourist travel to Cuba must fall under one of 12 categories recognized by the DOT’s Office of Foreign Assets Control: “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; and certain authorized export transactions.”
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.