DOT Unveils Winners Of Tentative Havana Route Authority

by Michele McDonald

José Martí International Airport, Havana, Cuba. Photo: Rojinegro81

Eight U.S. airlines were tentatively awarded authority to operate scheduled service between 11 U.S. cities and Havana’s José Martí International Airport beginning this fall.

American Airlines was the big winner, with a total of 13 daily flights to the island nation. United will have access to New Jersey’s 80,000 Cuban-Americans from its Newark hub, and almost all the carriers will share the huge Cuban-American market in Florida from Miami, Fort Lauderdale or Tampa.

American Airlines said it plans to operate four daily flights from Miami with 737-800 aircraft and one daily flight from Charlotte with A319 aircraft. Earlier, the Transportation Department granted American authority to operate scheduled service from Miami to Cienfuegos (once daily) and Holguin (twice daily), beginning Sept. 7; to Camaguey (once daily) and Santa Clara (twice daily), beginning Sept. 9; and to Varadero (twice daily) beginning Sept. 11.

Delta Air Lines received authority to provide daily Havana service from Atlanta, Miami and New York Kennedy.

Southwest plans to serve Havana with twice-daily nonstop service from Fort Lauderdale and once-daily nonstop service from Tampa. Southwest was previously awarded twice-daily service to Varadero and one daily flight to Santa Clara. 

United will operate daily service from Newark to Havana and one weekly flight from Houston to Havana.

Alaska Airlines was tentatively approved for daily nonstop service between Los Angeles and Havana. The same-plane service will originate in Alaska’s Seattle hub.

JetBlue plans to operate daily service to Havana and from New York Kennedy and Orlando and up to twice-daily service from Fort Lauderdale. Earlier, it was approved for daily service from Fort Lauderdale to Camaguey, Holguin and Santa Clara.

Frontier Airlines was approved for daily service to Havana from Miami. Earlier, it received authority for daily Chicago O’Hare-Santiago de Cuba service; once-weekly Chicago O’Hare-Varadero service; and service from Philadelphia to Camagüey (four weekly flights), Santa Clara (three weekly flights) and Varadero (one weekly flight).

Spirit Airlines was approved for twice-daily Fort Lauderdale-Havana service.

Silver Airways was not awarded any Havana service. However, it plans to fly from Fort Lauderdale to Camagüey (five per week), Varadero (four), Cayo Coco and Manzanillo (three each), Cienfuegos (two) and Cayo Largo del Sur (one per week). It plans daily service from Fort Lauderdale to Holguin, Santa Clara and Santiago de Cuba.

Sun Country plans weekly flights from Minneapolis to Santa Clara and Varadero.

Objections to the DOT’s tentative decision are due by July 22. Answers to any objections will be due by July 29. The DOT expects to reach a final decision later this summer.

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