U.S. gives tentative OK to flights to Cuba

U.S. gives tentative OK to flights to Cuba

U.S. gives tentative OK to flights to Cuba

The U.S. government has tentatively approved scheduled commercial airline service to Havana from 10 American cities, including Charlotte.

President Barack Obama on his trip to Havana last March to seal the agreement to open relations with Cuba after 50 years.

The move comes as the USA continues the process of normalising economic relations with Cuba after more than 50 years. Collectively the airlines applied for almost 60 flights per day to Havana, exceeding the 20 daily flights made available by arrangement between the two governments.

The airlines are Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and United.

President Raul Castro acknowledged on Friday that the crisis in Venezuela, Cuba's key ally and main trade partner, is having a negative spillover effect on the island's economy, days after officials began ordering energy-saving measures for the coming months.

Conservatives in Congress have been unwilling to lift the trade embargo of Cuba, which includes a travel ban. That means most Americans still can not legally visit Cuba. But the administration has eased rules to the point where travelers are now free to design their own "people-to-people" cultural exchange tours with little oversight. Cuban-Americans have been able to travel to Cuba without restriction since 2009.

U.S. citizens hoping to visit Cuba must have a VISA and fall under one of twelve approved categories. "U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and United recognize the very significant economic and consumer benefits these flights will bring to Houston-area residents, travelers, businesses and entrepreneurs".

USA citizens' interest in visiting Cuba has swelled since relations between the two nations started to thaw in December 2014.

In June, the DOT approved six US airlines, including Texas-based Southwest and American, to fly to lesser Cuba destinations.

USA and Cuban authorities agreed in February to restore flights between the two countries for the first time in 50 years. They have all been allocated certain routes and frequencies between United States cities and Havana.

Some airlines may begin flights as early as this fall.

Related news