Commercial flights make travel to Cuba far easier for USA travelers, with features such as online booking and 24-hour customer service that are largely absent in the charter industry.
USA carriers can apply for the limited spots. That includes 20 daily flights to Havana and 10 daily flights to other airports on the island.
The agreement formally opens the door for Cuban airlines to start operating future flights into the United States. Discount carrier Spirit Airlines has also claimed their plan to submit a proposal to offer their service between the USA and the island.
The US is due to sign an air agreement with Cuba later today, paving the way for commercial flights between the two countries for the first time in more five decades.
The two countries had been at odds for more than half a century following the overthrow of then-Cuban president Fulgencio Batista in 1959 by Fidel Castro’s forces.
American Airlines, which now offers 24 weekly charter flights from Miami, Los Angeles, and Tampa, Fla., has indicated it will seek routes out of Miami and said it is exploring options at its other hubs, including Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
In 2014, the Obama administration announced the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the USA and Cuba, and in 2015 took the initial steps to draft a non-legally binding arrangement to restart air service between the two countries.
American said it operated about 1,200 charter flights to Cuba previous year.
The US and Cuba have signed a memorandum of understanding to resume commercial flights between the two countries for the first time after a thaw in a 50-year standoff between the two states. American Airlines, Delta, and United all announced February 16 that they will apply for approval to provide commercial service to and from Cuba, and Southwest posted a statement saying it will consider applying. “There’s serious infrastructure challenges here”, says Collin Fayerty, owner of Cuba Educational Travel.
For now, the agreement could mean the use of airports in Camaguey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguin, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara and Santiago de Cuba.