Deal allows for a maximum of 110 flights per day between Cuba, U.S.
The US and Cuba have signed a deal to resume commercial air traffic flights for the first time in more than 50 years.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx met with Cuba’s Minister of Transportation Adel Yzquierdo Rodriguez, along with officials from the U.S. State Department and the Cuban Civil Aviation Institute to sign the agreement, which was completed in December 2015.
Airlines will now have a 15-day window to request for rights to the new routes to Cuba.
The deal allows for a maximum of 110 commercial flights per day between Cuba and the U.S. Of those flights, no more than 20 daily commercial flights would go through Havana while the other nine Cuban international airports have up to 10 daily flights.
Now, U.S. airlines can start submitting applications to fly the routes. Airlines including JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines, have expressed an interest in flights to Cuba.
Currently, charter flights are the only ones operating between Cuba and the U.S. Some airlines already had offered charter flights prior to the agreement, including American Airlines, which has offered charter flights since April 1991. More than 160,000 people from the U.S. visited Cuba last year on those flights, which have been called “expensive” and “frequently chaotic.”
Travelers to Cuba still must qualify to visit under one of several categories established by the Treasury Department, which include visiting family members, education, religious work and journalistic activity.
U.S. and Cuban officials reached a preliminary agreement Dec. 16 to resume scheduled flights between the two countries for the first time in more than five decades as well as to continue the charter flights that have long served as the only bridge between the United States and Cuba.