U.S. Airlines Ready to Take Off for Cuba

By Paul Riegler on 18 December 2015
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DSC_0275 (1)Following the news Thursday that the United States and Cuba will allow the resumption of commercial air service between the two countries, several U.S. airlines announced plans to seek approval to offer service to the island nation.

American Airlines, the world’s largest carrier, said it plans to begin service to Cuba as soon as possible in 2016. The airline’s vice president of regulatory affairs, Howard Kass, told reporters on a media call that the U.S. government is expected to approve 20 daily flights to Havana and 10 daily each to other major Cuban cities. Miami will be central to the airline’s Cuba strategy, he said, noting that the city “is the center of the Cuban diaspora.”

Earlier this month, American launched a weekly charter flight between Los Angeles and Havana, the only service connecting the west coast with Cuba. The airline has operated charter service to Cuba since 1991 with flights from Miami and Tampa to Havana and four additional Cuban cities, Camaguey, Cienfuegos, Holguin, and Santa Clara.

JetBlue Airways, which also currently operates charter service to Cuba, also said it plans to offer scheduled service to Cuba.

“Interest in Cuba has reached levels not seen for a generation,” said Scott Laurence, JetBlue’s senior vice president for airline planning, in a statement. He cited the airline’s “years of experience in Cuba” offering charter flights to both Havana and Santa Clara.

United Airlines also expressed interest in obtaining Cuba routes. “We look forward to offering service between our global gateways and Cuba as soon as we have approval to do so,” the airline said in a statement.

Southwest Airlines, the number four carrier, issued a statement that it was excited about the possibility of launching flights to Cuba as well.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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