DOT Gives U.S. Airlines The Go-Ahead To Start Scheduled Service To 9 Cuban Cities (But Not Havana Yet)

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After waiting for more than 50 years to carry passengers from the U.S. to Cuba, airlines stateside have gotten the final go-ahead from the Department of Transportation to begin scheduled service to nine cities on the island nation — not including Havana.

Last fall, the U.S. and Cuba decided to kiss and make up, a thawing of relations that led to the loosening up of travel between the two nations. Airlines were chomping at the bit back then to start flying, but had to wait until regulators could hash out exactly how things would work.

In the meantime, the airlines filed applications for one of the 20 new scheduled routes to Havana, as well as 90 routes to nine other Cuban destinations.

The U.S. DOT has now approved [PDF] six domestic airlines to begin scheduled flights between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis/St. Paul, and nine Cuban cities as early as this fall: American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines, and Sun Country Airlines.

The arrangement allows for 10 daily roundtrip flights, for a total of 90 daily roundtrips, between the U.S. and each of the following cities: Camagüey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguín, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara, and Santiago de Cuba. That doesn’t mean per airline, that means the carriers are dividing the 90 daily roundtrips between them.

“A decision on the Havana routes will be announced later this summer,” the DOT says.

“Last year, President Obama announced that it was time to ‘begin a new journey’ with the Cuban people,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Today, we are delivering on his promise by re-launching scheduled air service to Cuba after more than half a century.”

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