On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that it has given the green light for eight U.S. airlines to fly to Havana from 10 different U.S. cities. The decision gives the airlines at least one weekly nonstop flight to Cuba’s capital, and overall, the DOT has approved 14 different daily routes to Havana in addition to one Saturday-only route.
“Today we take another important step toward delivering on President Obama’s promise to reengage Cuba,” said Anthony Foxx, DOT secretary, in a statement revealing the routes. “Restoring regular air service holds tremendous potential to reunite Cuban American families and foster education and opportunities for American businesses of all sizes.”
The move is one of many in a chain of events that began with President Obama and President Castro announcing a new course in relations between the U.S. and Cuba on December 17th, 2014. Travel to Cuba has increased this year due in part to the efforts of the Obama administration. As Reuters points out, travel by Americans to Cuba has increased by 77 percent within the last year.
The DOT had already approved flights to other Cuban cities back in June, through which six airlines can fly from five U.S. destinations to nine Cuban cities other than Havana. Tentatively, the eight airline companies that will receive the flights are Alaska (ALK - Free Report) , American (AAL - Free Report) , Delta (DAL - Free Report) , Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest (LUV - Free Report) , Spirit (SAVE - Free Report) and United (UAL - Free Report) .
Each of the aforementioned companies’ stock is up today on the news. Although relations with Cuba are still metaphorically under construction, the progress appears promising, and could result in more flights down the road.
As it stands, only 20 daily round-trip flights are allowed between the U.S.A. and Havana. However, demand from airliners is apparent, with three times that volume requested from the government.
The DOT believes it will have its final list ready “later this summer.”
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