July 7 — Eight U.S. airlines have been granted tentative approval to operate nonstop flights to Havana.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced July 7 that out of a dozen airlines that applied, eight got the nod to operate up to 20 daily round-trip flights total between the U.S. and the Cuban capital as soon as this fall.
Those eight are: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines and United Airlines.
The flights will depart from four Florida cities—Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando and Tampa—as well as Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Houston, Los Angeles and New York.
The Transportation Department said it will review any objections submitted to the agency by July 22. A final decision will be issued later this summer.
Reinstituting direct flights to Havana is the most recent example of the Obama administration's efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, Foxx said.
“Today we take another important step toward delivering on President Obama’s promise to reengage Cuba,” he said. “Restoring regular air service holds tremendous potential to reunite Cuban American families and foster education and opportunities for American businesses of all sizes.”
Last month, the DOT approved six U.S. airlines to serve nine Cuban cities outside of Havana (See previous story, 06/13/16).
The departure cities for the Havana flights were selected based on their Cuban-American populations and the size of their aviation hubs. The decision makes sense because the flights likely will serve mostly Cuban-American passengers traveling to the island to visit relatives, John S. Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, told Bloomberg BNA.
Americans continue to have restricted legal access to the island, Kavulich said. Thus, some of the routes could prove to be unprofitable.
If that turns out to be the case, some airlines could return the routes to the DOT and the agency could then offer other airlines the opportunity to increase the number of flights they can operate, he said. That might be especially appealing to large, traditional air carriers such as United and American that each received just 40 percent of the flights they requested.
“Probably the first grouping for unprofitability would be the non-Havana flights,” Kavulich said, adding that most Cuban-Americans would want to fly into the capital.
The nine Cuban cities previously approved to be served by U.S. flights are Camaguey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguin, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara and Santiago de Cuba.
Engage Cuba, a coalition of businesses lobbying Congress to lift the travel and trade embargo, said the restored flights should prompt Congress to take action.
“I think many Americans will be surprised to learn that even with daily U.S. commercial flights to our island neighbor, you still cannot travel to Cuba as a tourist,” Engage Cuba President James Williams said.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) agreed. “With U.S. airlines now poised to unleash the power of American travelers and their frequent flier miles, the time has come for Congress to eliminate the archaic restrictions on U.S. travel to Cuba,” he said in a statement.
To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Beasley in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Heather Rothman at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)