As part of the Obama administration’s efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) has approved American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines, and Sun Country Airlines to begin scheduled flights from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis/St. Paul to Cuba this fall, for the first time in more than half a century.
Nine Cuban cities will now be reachable from the US, including: Camagüey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguín, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara, and Santiago de Cuba. DOT has allocated up to 10 daily round-trip flights at each of Cuba’s nine international airports, other than Havana, under the new arrangement. Bringing the total of daily non-Havana roundtrip flights to Cuba from the US up to 90.
In the long-run, the US-Cuba arrangement will also allow for up to 20 daily roundtrip flights between the US and Havana. Carriers have requested nearly 60 flights per day to Havana, but because of the limit, DOT will select which carriers among those who submitted proposals will get approval. Later this summer, a decision on the US to Havana routes will be announced.
While this new arrangement reflects a major step forward in President Obama’s policy of engagement with Cuba, significant limitation and requirements remain in place concerning US tourism to Cuba. Unfortunately, travel to Cuba for tourist activities still remains prohibited. US citizens interested in traveling to Cuba will have to fall under one of the 12 categories authorized by the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).