Ed. note: This was cross-posted from the Department of Transportation's Fast Lane blog. You can view the original post here.
Today, DOT is taking another step toward delivering on President Obama’s promise to reengage with Cuba by restoring scheduled air service to the nation’s capital and largest city.
As part of the Obama Administration’s historic efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, DOT proposed to select eight U.S. airlines to begin scheduled flights between Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, Orlando, and Tampa and Havana as early as this fall.
Having regular air service for the first time in more than 50 years holds great potential – Cuban American families will be reunited and it will foster education and opportunities for American businesses of all sizes.
Following an historic arrangement between the U.S. and Cuba to re-establish scheduled air service, a dozen U.S. airlines applied for the chance to operate scheduled passenger service to Havana. Collectively, the airlines applied for nearly 60 flights per day to Havana, exceeding the 20 daily flights made available by the arrangement between the two governments.
DOT’s main objective in making its proposed selections was to maximize public benefits, including choosing airlines that offered and could maintain the best ongoing service between the U.S. and Havana. The proposed nonstop Havana routes provide service for cities with substantial Cuban-American population, and to important aviation hub cities with their convenient connections and competitive service.
In addition, the Department aimed to offer the public a wide array of travel choices in the type of airline – such as network, low-cost, or ultra-low-cost – as well as the choice of airport and of non-stop or connecting service.
The airlines receiving the tentative awards are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and United Airlines.
Many U.S. airlines are already gearing up to begin scheduled service to Cuba. Today’s announcement follows the Department’s approval last month of six U.S. airlines’ applications to serve cities other than Havana.
The public can comment on DOT’s Havana route proposal by visiting regulations.gov, docket DOT-OST-2016-0021. We expect to reach a final decision this summer, and most of the airlines propose to begin their services in the fall and winter of 2016/2017.
As a reminder, travel restrictions remain for Cuba and travel for tourist activities is prohibited by statute. To learn whether your travel is authorized, please refer to the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) guidance on travel between the U.S. and Cuba.