US and Cuba to resume scheduled routes

American Airlines Boeing 787

The US and Cuba have signed a historic agreement that provides the basis for the re-establishment of scheduled air services, which is set to open the floodgates for flights with all major US carriers targeting routes.

Immediately following the signing yesterday, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) invited US air carriers to apply for an allocation of the new opportunities to provide scheduled passenger and cargo flights.

US Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx says: “We are excited to announce the availability of new scheduled air service opportunities to Cuba for US carriers, shippers, and the traveling public, and we will conduct this proceeding in a manner designed to maximize public benefits.”

In 2014, the Obama Administration announced its intention to re-establish diplomatic relations and embark on a process of normalisation with Cuba.

Less than one year later, in December 2015, after several months of negotiations, the governments of the US and Cuba concluded negotiations on a non-legally binding arrangement to re-establish scheduled air services between the two countries.

There have been no scheduled flights between the United States and Cuba for over half a century.

The new arrangement provides each country with the opportunity to operate up to 20 daily round-trip flights between the US and Havana. It also provides each country with the opportunity to operate up to 10 daily round-trip flights between the US and each of Cuba’s nine other international airports, providing US carriers with the opportunity to operate up to a total of 110 daily round-trip flights between the US and Cuba.

American Airlines welcomes the bilateral air service arrangement, and chairman and chief executive officer, Doug Parker says: “American Airlines commends the US government for its commitment to re-establishing cultural and economic ties between the US and Cuba, and for laying the groundwork to restore scheduled air service between the two countries for the first time in more than 50 years.

“We applaud the Administration for making commercial air service a priority and we thank Secretary Foxx, Secretary Kerry and their teams for their leadership in finalising this arrangement. American looks forward to submitting a Cuba service proposal to the Department of Transportation in the coming weeks.”

American’s Latin America gateway hub at Miami International Airport will be included in the company’s application for scheduled service to Cuba. American is also considering applying to serve Cuba from other hubs.

JetBlue also hailed the historic agreement and the airline’s senior vice president for government affairs and associate general counsel, Rob Land explains: “As a leading airline to the Caribbean and as an experienced carrier serving Cuba with charter flights since 2011, JetBlue eagerly awaits the opportunity to grow our service with regularly scheduled routes between various US and Cuban cities.

“We look forward to providing the affordable, high-quality service that sets JetBlue apart. We hope the next dots on our Caribbean route map will be regularly scheduled service to and from Cuba.”

United Airlines applauded the agreement and says it intends to apply to offer service between some of its global gateways and Havana.

Delta Air Lines says it will file to operate a non-stop service to Cuba, and vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean, Nicolas Ferri says: “Filing for service to Havana is an important moment in aviation history for Delta and between the US and Cuba.

“We look forward to providing access to the island from the US and around the world; this market will increase the strength of our network in the Caribbean.”