For the first time in more than five decades US airlines are permitted to resume scheduled commercial air service from the U.S. to Cuba
The law in the US still prohibits tourist travel to Cuba, but a dozen other categories of travel are permitted, including family visits, official business, journalist visits, professional meetings and educational and religious activities. The Obama administration has eased rules to the point where travelers are now free to design their own “people-to-people” cultural exchanges with little oversight.
Most of the airline service is expected to begin this fall and early winter, the US Department of Transportation said. The airlines – American, Frontier, JetBlue, Silver Airways, Southwest and Sun Country – were approved for a total of 155 roundtrip flights per week. They will fly from five US cities to nine cities in Cuba other than Havana. The nine destinations in Cuba are Camagüey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguín, Manzanillo, Santa Clara, Santiago de Cuba and Varadero.
Approval is still required by the Cuban government, but the carriers say they plan to start selling tickets in the next few weeks while they wait for signoffs from Cuba.