US Department of Transportation Approves First Routes to Cuba
Update: American Airlines has confirmed that it will launch service in September from Miami to Camaguey, Cienfuegos, Holguin, Santa Clara and Varadero. The Holguin and Santa Clara flights will be operated with a Boeing 737-800 and the Camaguey, Cienfuegos and Varadero flights will be operated with an Airbus A319.
Earlier this year, many airlines announced proposed routes to service Cuba. And today, the US Department of Transportation has approved six domestic airlines to begin service to the country starting this fall. The approved carriers include American, Frontier, JetBlue, Silver, Southwest and Sun Country. The routes will operate between Miami (MIA), Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Chicago (ORD), Minneapolis (MSP) and Philadelphia (PHL) and Camaguey (CMW), Cayo Coco (CCC), Cayo Largo (CYO), Cienfuegos (CFG), Holguin (HOG), Manzanillo (MZO), Matanzas (VRA), Santa Clara (SNU) and Santiago de Cuba (SCU).
Under the agreement, each country can operate up to 10 daily round-trip flights between the US and each of Cuba's nine international airports, for a total of 90 daily round-trip flights. It's worth noting that service to Havana is not included in this announcement, and the DOT said that distribution of the 20 allotted daily round-trip flights to the country's capital city will be announced later this summer.
Nine major US carriers applied for routes to service Cuba, and as of today's announcement, only six were granted approval to introduce service. Among those missing from the announcement are Delta, United and Alaska, which have reportedly only requested service to Havana (which has not yet been awarded). As of this writing, there's no indication of exactly when tickets will be available, but we do know that American Airlines plans to launch its Miami flights in September.
TPG Senior Editor Kaeli Conforti recently returned from the first cruise to Cuba in more than 50 years and thoroughly enjoyed her time in the country. She said the Cuban people were friendly and very welcoming to the American tourists on board the ship. Click here for her full review of the experience.