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article imageU.S. airlines expected to begin regular flights to Cuba this year

By Nathan Salant     Jun 11, 2016 in World
Havana - Six U.S. airlines have been authorized to begin commercial service to Havana starting later this year for the first time since the 1960s, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Friday.
American, Frontier, JetBlue, Silver Airways, Southwest and Sun Country have been approved to begin scheduled passenger service from five U.S. cities to Cuba as early as October, according to the Associated Press.
Flights approved Friday are to nine cities in Cuba other than Havana, where air travel falls under a separate agreement between the countries and is expected to begin this summer.
Service should begin in the fall and early winter, the U.S. Department of Transportation said.
“Last year, President Obama announced that it was time to ‘begin a new journey’ with the Cuban people,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told the AP.
“Today, we are delivering on his promise by re-launching scheduled air service to Cuba after more than half a century,” he said.
Tourist travel from the United States to Cuba still is illegal under U.S. law, but ongoing negotiations with officials in Havana have eased restrictions and created a dozen new categories of permissible visits, including family, business, educational and religious activities.
Cuba still hasn't officially approved the new flights, either, but such approval considered so likely that U.S. airlines plan to start selling tickets in the next few days, the AP said.
U.S. officials said there were far more requests for flights to Havana than available routes under recent agreements opening air travel between the two former Cold War rivals, but there was far less interest in routes to other cities in Cuba.
Routes approved Friday included service from Miami, Chicago, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the AP said.
Destinations in Cuba include Camaguey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguin, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara and Santiago de Cuba.
All flights currently operating between the two countries are charters.
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