Home / Top Story / Cuba commercial air traffic with U.S. deal set to take off

Cuba commercial air traffic with U.S. deal set to take off

Passengers walk across the tarmac at Jose Marti International Airport after arriving on a charter plane operated by American Airlines January 19, 2015 in Havana, Cuba.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Passengers walk across the tarmac at Jose Marti International Airport after arriving on a charter plane operated by American Airlines January 19, 2015 in Havana, Cuba.

HAVANA — The United States and Cuba will sign an agreement next week to resume commercial air traffic for the first time in five decades, starting the clock on dozens of new flights operating daily by next fall, U.S. officials said Friday.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is scheduled to fly to Havana on Tuesday to cement the deal that would be the most significant development in U.S.-Cuba trade since Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro announced in late 2014 that they would begin normalizing ties.

The Obama administration is eager to make rapid progress on building trade and diplomatic ties with Cuba before the president leaves office. The coming weeks are seen as particularly crucial to building momentum ahead of a trip he hopes to make to Havana by the end of March.

“This (agreement) provides for a very important, sizeable increase in travel between the two countries, and that reinforces the president’s objective,” said Thomas Engle, deputy assistant secretary of state for transportation affairs.

Under the deal, U.S. airlines can start bidding on routes for as many as 110 U.S.-Cuba flights a day — more than five times the current number. All flights operating today are charters.

Officials hope to parcel the routes out among carriers by this summer, allowing flights to begin by the time Obama leaves office.

The agreement allows 20 regular daily U.S. flights to Havana, in addition to the current 10-15 charter flights a day. The rest would be to other Cuban airports, most of which have far less demand than the capital.

Nearly 160,000 U.S. leisure travelers flew to Cuba last year, along with hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans visiting family, mostly on expensive, frequently chaotic charter flights out of Florida.

Commercial flights could bring hundreds of thousands more U.S. travelers a year and make the travel process far easier, with features like online booking and 24-hour customer service that are largely absent in the charter industry. U.S. visitors to

Cuba will still have to qualify under one of the travel categories legally authorized by the U.S. government. Tourism is still barred by law, but the number of legal reasons to go to Cuba — from organizing professional meetings to distributing information to Cubans — has grown so large and loosely enforced that the distinction from tourism has blurred significantly.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.

Nation / World – NY Daily News

About

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

three × 4 =

Read previous post:
AMD unveils its own CPU recommendations for Oculus VR

Share This article Earlier this week, Oculus opened pre-orders for systems and configurations that it believes will deliver an acceptable...

Close