US Awards Routes To Cuba As First Flight Arrives
The US Department of Transportation announced the selection of airlines for scheduled flights to Havana as the first scheduled service arrived in Cuba.
The eight carriers, Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and United received DOT approval for a total of 20 daily services between US cities and the Cuban capital.
Under the US-Cuba agreement, each country has the opportunity to operate up to 20 daily roundtrip flights between the countries.
The eight winners out of a total of twelve airlines that applied ranged from American which received five daily flights, to Alaska Airlines and Frontier which got one daily each.
The announcement came on the day of the first scheduled flight to Cuba in over 50 years, a JetBlue Airways service from Fort Lauderdale to Santa Clara.
“Today’s actions are the result of months of work by airlines, cities, the US government, and many others toward delivering on President Obama’s promise to reengage with Cuba,” US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.
Foxx, who was on the inaugural flight, was accompanied by JetBlue chief executive Robin Hayes, government officials and reporters.
“We are proud to be the first US airline to serve Cuba, but our focus is on being the best airline serving Cuba,” Hayes said.
DOT awarded American four daily round-trips from Miami and one from Charlotte, Delta got dailies from New York JFK, Atlanta and Miami, and United received a once daily from Newark and a Saturday flight from Houston.
JetBlue was a big winner with twice daily from Fort Lauderdale (one except Saturdays), and a daily service each from New York and Orlando.
United said service to Havana will start from November 29, subject to government approval
In selecting the airlines, DOT said that its principal objective was to select the carriers that would offer and maintain the best service for the public.
The approved airlines now need to apply for Cuban government authority to operate the flights.