U.S. Airlines Competing To Nab One Of 20 New Scheduled Routes To Havana

Image courtesy of Rdog Xtreme

Now that the United States and Cuba have decided to let bygones be bygones and relations are thawing between the two countries, more Americans will soon have the chance to visit the nearby island nation by air. There will be 110 new scheduled routes to Cuba, with 20 of those flying daily to the country’s capital of Havana, and major U.S. airlines are stepping up to the plate to bid for the first regularly scheduled, non-charter flights.

American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and JetBlue have all turned in their applications to the U.S. government to fly commercial flights to Cuba.

The most competition will likely be for those 20 daily flights to Havana, notes USA Today, while Cuba’s other nine airports will each get 10 daily flights.

Everyone won’t get what they want, as a brief glance at the airlines’ wishlist for those highly-coveted 20 Havana flights reveals: Alaska Airlines wants one; American wants 13 total out of various U.S. airports, plus one each on Saturdays only out of Chicago, and on Sundays only from Los Angeles; Delta wants five; Frontier wants four; JetBlue wants 12; Southwest wants nine; United wants one daily round-trip, with two on Saturdays, and Saturday-only daily service from Chicago, Houston, and Washington D.C. There’s also a smaller airline called Silver Airways, which is seeking daily and weekly flights to Havana as well.

I wouldn’t call myself a mathematician, but that would appear to be more than 20 flights.

This is all happening because of an agreement reached by the U.S. and Cuba in 2015 that allows commercial air travel to resume for the first time in more than 50 years. However, Americans still won’t be able to travel to Cuba as tourists: the U.S. government does allow travel to the island under 12 criteria, including family visits, government work, journalism, professional research, humanitarian work, and education.

In February this year, U.S. and Cuban officials officially signed the arrangement providing for the re-establishment of scheduled air services between the two countries.