Santiago de Cuba. Photo: Cvbr.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has given approval to six U.S. airlines to fly direct flights to Cuba for the first time in more than 50 years.
American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airlines, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines, and Sun Country Airlines have all been approved to start flying to nine Cuban cities—other than Havana—starting in the fall.
The new routes will fly out of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Philadelphia and will go to the Cuban cities of Camaguey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguin, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara, and Santiago de Cuba.
Before the airlines can officially start flying, however, the Transportation and Security Administration must review and approve security processes at the Cuban Airports.
All airlines—except for one—got the approval they were looking for. Fort Lauderdale’s Silver Airways got the most routes, with nine.
The only airline not to receive approval was Miami-based Eastern Airlines, which has “not completed the necessary licensing steps to conduct scheduled air transportation,” according to the DOT.
The DOT has yet to rule on the 20 round-trip flights per day now allowed between the United States and Havana.
In a March filing, American said it should be granted half of the 20 available Miami-Havana flights because “no airline has proposed an allocation more tailored to demand and traffic than American.”
In its filing, Southwest said it could deliver a flight priced $45 to $50 cheaper than American, and “more than any other airline in this case, Southwest will successfully develop the new Havana markets, operate at high load factors, and bring the greatest air travel value to the U.S. consumer.”
The DOT will announce Havana routes later this summer.