MIAMI — The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued an order today, clearing six American carriers to start flights to nine airports in Cuba.
Last May, nine airlines filed applications with the DOT, seeking the approval of regular flights to Cuba, with capital city Havana as the most coveted destination. However, the Agency informed that the allocations of the slots to the capital city of Cuba will remain pending and will be announced later this summer.
American Airlines received the approval of service from its hub in Miami and five cities in the island – Camaguey, Cienfuegos, Holguin, Santa Clara and Varadero. In a press statement, the airline announced the beginning of flights in September, and will be American’s first-ever scheduled service to Cuba.
Per the DOT order, American is approved to operate two daily flights between Miami and Holguin, Santa Clara and Varadero, and one daily flight between Miami and Camaguey and Cienfuegos. 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.
Ultra-low cost carrier Frontier was also awarded with five routes from Chicago and Philadelphia to Santiago de Cuba, Matanzas, Camaguey and Santa Clara, all to be operated by Airbus A320 aircraft.
Also, low-cost carrier JetBlue announced its intent to serve three cities in Cuba – Santa Clara, Camaguey and Holguin, with planned daily flights from its focus city in Fort Lauderdale.
Silver Airways was granted direct service to nine Cuban cities—more than any other carrier—from Fort Lauderdale as well. The carrier will operate to Camaguey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo del Sur, Cienfuegos, Holguin, Manzanillo, Santa Clara, Santiago de Cuba and Matanzas.
“Serving all nine non-Havana routes, as we have consistently said, is dependent on Silver being awarded routes to Havana. We eagerly await the DOT’s approval of our Havana service request.” Said Silver Silver Airways President and CEO Sami Teittinen.
Southwest Airlines was also granted two routes from Fort Lauderdale to Matanzas and Santa Clara. Both destinations in Cuba were also granted to Sun Country Airlines, which will operate flights from Minneapolis / St. Paul.
The grant of Eastern Air Lines’ routes from Miami to Camaguey and Holguin was deferred as its current operating authority limits it to providing charter flights only. The carrier expects to complete pending its Scheduled airline requirements soon while the DOT will make a final decision once the routes to Havana are announced.
Last February, the United States and Cuba signed a new civil aviation agreement, which allows for up to 110 additional scheduled flights.
The requests to serve non-Havana cities were all under the daily cap of 10 flights, and the applications approved by DOT were uncontested on the record.