U.S. to Allow Eight Airlines to Fly Nonstop to Cuba

AP

The Obama administration gave the go ahead for eight U.S. airlines to begin nonstop flights to Havana, Cuba, as early as this fall, the Department of Transportation announced Thursday.

The tentative list of airlines includes Alaska Air, American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, and United, Reuters reported.

The proposal will allow 10 airports across the U.S. to offer at least one weekly nonstop flight to Havana. The ten cities to offer flights are: Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; Houston; Los Angeles; Newark, New Jersey; New York; and four in Florida–Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Tampa.

"Today we take another important step toward delivering on President Obama’s promise to re-engage Cuba," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement to Reuters.

"Restoring regular air service holds tremendous potential to reunite Cuban-American families and foster education and opportunities for American businesses of all sizes," he added.

American Airlines was awarded five daily round-trip flights to Cuba from Miami and Charlotte—the greatest number of the eight airlines.

A total of 20 daily round-trip flights are now permitted between the U.S. and Havana, but because U.S. carriers requested almost three times as many flights to be allowed, the Transportation Department awarded the nonstop trips to specific airlines announced Thursday.

Foxx said that a final decision on the flights will be reached later this summer, and "interested parties" have a July 22 deadline to submit formal objections to the Transportation Department.

The announcement comes nearly a year after President Obama restored diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba after five decades of restricted trade and travel spurred by the Cold War.

The U.S. restarted commercial sea travel between the two nations in May after a Carnival cruise ship traveled from Miami to Havana.