U.S. and Cuba Set to Resume Commercial Flights Come Fall
U.S. airlines could begin offering scheduled air service between to Cuba for the first time in 50 years by next fall, officials said on Friday.
Top U.S. officials will travel to Cuba next week to sign an aviation pact that will put into motion an agreement reached last December between the two one-time foes. The pact will put into motion what is expected to be a fierce bidding war to win routes and airport slots for what could be as many as 110 daily non-stop flights to and from Cuba. Airlines will have 15 days to submit bids for routes linking the two countries.
The nation’s four top airlines have previously made their enthusiasm for routes to Cuba known.
American Airlines, the world’s largest carrier, said in December it plans to begin service to Cuba as soon as possible in 2016. The airline’s vice president of regulatory affairs, Howard Kiss, said on a media call that Miami will be central to the airline’s Cuba strategy, he said, noting that the city “is the center of the Cuban diaspora.”
American 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. It recently began to offer service from Los Angeles to Havana.
JetBlue Airways, which also currently operates charter service to Cuba, also said it plans to offer scheduled service to Cuba, as did United Airlines and Southwest Airlines.
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