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U.S. airlines begin service to Cuba

August 31, 2016 - UNITED STATES

Six United States airlines expect to begin service to Cuba, with Jet
Blue earning the distinction of being the first to land there in more than 50 years. American Airlines follows with a flight Sep 7. The resumption of service marks the continuing détente between Washington and Havana after decades of estrangement.

Jet Blue flies out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and American Airways flies out of Miami in the same state. The carriers await word from the U.S. Department of Transportation about the prized Miami-Havana service. At present the airlines are confined to serving secondary Cuban airports.

Forty-six airlines already fly to Cuba, including Air France, Aeromexico, KLM, Air Canada, Aeroflot and Iberia.

In Dec 2014 U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuba's President Raul Castro announced moves to normalize diplomatic relations between the two countries. Diplomatic relations were re-established in Jul 2015. In May 2016 Carnival Cruise Line's Adonia became the first U.S. cruise ship in Havana in nearly 40 years, after travel bans were lifted.

The airlines - American, Frontier, JetBlue, Silver Airways, Southwest and Sun Country - were approved by the Department of Transportation for a total of 155 round trip flights per week. They will fly from five U.S. cities to nine cities in Cuba, other than Havana.

Nearly 160,000 U.S. leisure travellers flew to Cuba last year, along with hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans visiting family.

Six US airlines permitted to offer flights to Cuba in foreign policy milestone (Guardian 10 Jun 2016)

Chicago among five cities to offer flights to Cuba (Chicago Tribune 10 Jun 2016)

What It Was Like on the First U.S. Cruise to Cuba in 50 Years

Cuba approves first commercial flights from Miami and Fort Lauderdale (Miami Herald 18 Aug 2016)

Date written/update: 2016-08-21