Last updated: 12:33 PM ET, Thu July 07 2016

DOT Approves 8 Airlines For Havana Routes

Airlines & Airports | United Airlines | Rich Thomaselli | July 07, 2016

DOT Approves 8 Airlines For Havana Routes

As part of its plan to make travel to Havana available to all, the DOT chose low-budget Spirit Airlines as one of the eight approved. (photo courtesy of Spirit Airlines)

For the first time in a half-century, a U.S.-based airline has been approved to fly a commercial flight into Cuba.

Eight of them, in fact.

The Department of Transportation this morning gave tentative approval to eight carriers to begin scheduled flights between Havana and nine U.S cities, which could come as early as this fall.

“Today we take another important step toward delivering on President Obama’s promise to reengage Cuba,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “Restoring regular air service holds tremendous potential to reunite Cuban American families and foster education and opportunities for American businesses of all sizes.”

READ MORE: Air Routes To Cuba: Which Carriers Won and Lost?

The eight carriers to receive the tentative approval, out of 12 that applied to operate commercial and cargo service to Havana, are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines and United Airlines. Only 20 roundtrip daily flights were available between the U.S. and Cuba as per the previous agreement between the two countries following normalization of relations. The airlines applied for almost 60 daily routes.

The 10 cities are Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, Orlando and Tampa.

The DOT said its thinking in choosing the eight airlines was to “allocate nonstop Havana service to areas of substantial Cuban-American population, as well as to important aviation hub cities. The Department’s process of selecting carriers offers an opportunity to present the public with a wide array of travel choices in the type of airline (network, low-cost, ultra-low-cost); choices of airport; and choices of non-stop or connecting service. The DOT’s proposed selections would simultaneously address service needs while promoting competition.”

READ MORE: Travel To Cuba: What’s In It For Travel Agents?

The DOT previously announced the approval of six U.S. airline applications to serve cities other than Havana on June 10.

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

The tentative airlines and routes are:

Alaska Airlines
Los Angeles: 1 daily round-trip flight

American Airlines
Miami: 4 daily round-trip flights
Charlotte: 1 daily round-trip flight

Delta Air Lines
Atlanta: 1 daily round-trip flight
New York JFK: 1 daily round-trip flight
Miami: 1 daily round-trip flight

Frontier Airlines
Miami: 1 daily round-trip flight

Fort Lauderdale: 2 daily round-trip flights (once on Saturdays)
New York JFK: 1 daily round-trip flight
Orlando: 1 daily round-trip flight

Southwest Airlines
Fort Lauderdale: 2 daily round-trip flights
Tampa: 1 daily round-trip flight

Spirit Airlines
Fort Lauderdale: 2 daily round-trip flights

United Airlines
Houston Bush Intercontinental: 1 weekly round-trip flight (Saturday only)
Newark Liberty: 1 daily round-trip flight


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