Eight U.S. airlines win tentative approval for flights to Havana

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TRAVEL GAZETTE – Eight U.S. airlines have got tentative approval to operate direct flights from ten U.S. cities to Havana, the capital of Cuba, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) said Thursday.

The airlines receiving the tentative awards are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines and United Airlines, the DOT said in a news release.

“Today we take another important step toward delivering on President (Barack) Obama’s promise to reengage Cuba,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.

The carriers will operate direct flights to Havana from 10 American cities, including Atlanta of Georgia, Charlotte of North Carolina, Houston of Texas, Los Angeles of California, Newark of New Jersey, New York, and four cities in Florida, namely Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando and Tampa.

The DOT said that it awarded the routes in order to provide more service to areas with a substantial Cuban-American population, and to important aviation hub cities.

“Restoring regular air service holds tremendous potential to reunite Cuban American families and foster education and opportunities for American businesses of all size,” the statement added.

Last month, the DOT already permitted flights from the United States to nine other Cuban cities but put off the authorization of Havana flights because of the airlines’ competition.

The U.S. and Cuban governments currently have arranged 20 daily flights linking the two nations, accounting for nearly one third of the number the U.S. airlines are applying for in terms of passenger and cargo flights to Havana.

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