Airlines Get OK to Book Direct Commercial Flights to Cuba

American Airlines
American Airlines is one of the companies expected to take quick advantage of the opportunity to provide regular commercial flights to Cuba.  Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — The governments of Cuba and the United States agreed to restore direct commercial flights between the two countries after more than half a century, the US State Department announced today, reported dpa news.

The agreement, which comes a year after the initial reestablishment of relations, should enable regular air links for the first time since the 60s. Interested companies must now come to terms with Cuban authorities to incorporate routes.

Until now you could only fly between the US and Cuba on charter flights or through third countries. The two governments reached the agreement on Wednesday, said a State Department spokesman. The Cuban side had informed earlier in the week that the two countries were finalizing “an understanding” during negotiations that took place in Washington.

“This agreement will continue to allow charter flights and establish regular air service, which will facilitate an increase in the authorized travel and expand travel options,” said the US statement.

Trips to Cuba from the US have skyrocketed in the last 12 months after the announcement of the thaw. Tourism industry experts expect this year for 600,000 people travel to the Caribbean island from the United States.

As part of the rapprochement with the government in Havana, the administration of Barack Obama this year eased travel restrictions for US citizens to Cuba. While the travel ban on tourism is still in effect (as part of the US embargo against Cuba) the visitors are authorized to travel under 12 categories, such as cultural exchanges or for family reasons for Cuban-Americans.

A few days ago the two countries also announced the reestablishment of direct mail after more than a half century.

15 thoughts on “Airlines Get OK to Book Direct Commercial Flights to Cuba

  • December 23, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    In other words, rather than refute the FACTS that I have presented, you choose to simply call me names and claim to know more than me because. …..? Typical strategy when the truth hurts.

  • December 23, 2015 at 9:07 am

    You are clueless even though you continuously prop every argument you initiate with pseudo intellectual nonfacts. It’s too bad you take up space and pretend to know what’s up, there are many people who are in real contact with genuine information, once again I forgot to scroll over your post and allowed myself to be feed a troll. Since I am in Cuba doing real work with real people I have no nostalgia,and no need of time wasting. Just facts. I’ll stay aligned with the brilliant businessmen I know both American and Cuban. Knowledge is power. Sabes ya? Bastante.

  • December 22, 2015 at 11:11 am

    You seem, like many Cubans, anxious to see quick fixes bring a semblance of normalcy to life in Cuba. Keep in mind that the Castros have had 57 years to f*ck things up there. There is a HUGE difference between the announcement in this post and a normal travel profile to/from Cuba. The fact is that more foreign carriers have left Cuba recently than have started services. Landing fees in Havana are relatively expensive. Flight crews complain about hotel accommodations. Airline support services leave much to be desired. US carriers are known to be as demanding as any carrier around the world. Don’t make any plans to travel on US carriers to Cuba just yet.

  • December 22, 2015 at 10:56 am

    I simply disagree. Airline support services throughout the Caribbean are staffed with US-managed and US trained personnel. Where did you receive your in-flight training? Unless the Castros are willing to let an American Airlines engineer be in charge at Jose Marti, an agreement will be a challenge. I agree that US airlines are anxious to lock down the routes. But like so many of the prospective business relationships in Cuba, there’s a big difference between beginning the negotiations and concluding the deal. Will US Air Marshalls have authority on US flagged aircraft in Cuban airspace? Will fuel shipments be subject to Cuban authorities? The devil is in the details. Cubans have had 57 years to get their act together. How has that worked out so far? More than 7000 Cubans stranded in Costa Rica don’t seem to be as optimistic as you are. Then again, as a flight attendant in the US, your life is very different. You can afford to be optimistic and probably a bit nostalgic as well. I’m not negative CUBACAROLINA. I’m just realistic.

  • December 22, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Fidel long ago froze out his acknowledged 8 offspring from playing a meaningful role in running the country. Only Raul’s son and son-in-law appear to have any real role in official Cuban matters. Raul’s daughter Mariel is an internationally recognized figure-head in LGBT issues but does not have a substantive role in Cuban matters either. Antonio Castro is a well known international playboy to the Cuban people. As a result, although his comments seem level-headed, they fall on deaf ears among Cuban decision-makers.

  • December 22, 2015 at 9:11 am

    I worked for American Airlines and now fly for American Eagle and United Express, you are dead wrong, they are both right behind the door with both hands pulling to open. They have no worries about their planes being serviced there and in fact are hiring Cuban pilots as fast as they can. The equipment ships and the airports in HAVANA (HAV) y Santiago de Cuba are far better than in PAP Haiti and many islands, every day international carriers fly in and out and the facilities are fine! Stop your ridiculous rants, learn something accurate,you help no one , Cubans get our act together with no assistance from los negativos!

  • December 22, 2015 at 8:51 am

    Why I became a flight attendant, you will see me traveling to see my family more often…Time for the changes we have dreamed of. Affordable travel, a more normal life, contact mas normal…Poco a poco… All who know not what they speak of pues cerra la boca .

  • December 21, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    Time is really running out Moses and that’s a fact. I will mention Antonio Castro as a possible conduit to get the ball rolling. I was shocked by an ESPN interview and his comments regarding the defecting Baseball players and his views. He is way sharper than I thought and did a very good job in handling the questions. No party line BS and like Bruno Rodriguez, no thousand mile stare. We all know his lineage but I believe he knows what needs to be done to get Cuba
    back into the free world. The tourist dollars are what makes the difference but if the infrastructure isn’t fixed and fixed quickly that will turn to dust.

  • December 20, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    Actually, pimping Cuban doctors is the biggest revenue source for the Castros. Tourism is second. Property rights are a valid concern for foreign investors, as you suggest, but the two more pressing issues are staffing control and ownership equity. Foreign managers can not make hiring/firing decisions and continue to be limited to 49% ownership interests.

  • December 18, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    Tourism is Cuba’s biggest revenue draw so that’s where the money is and investment is necessary to build the infrastructure and above the ground physical buildings. I lived in Hawaii in the seventies and worked to set up communication networks with the travel industry and worldwide networks linking countries and agencies. Keep in mind, up until the late seventies, most land in Hawaii was leased not owned and that was set up intentionally by the various estates related to the days of Hawaiian royalty. The funds and trust revenues go to Kamehameha Schools and several other major funds for Hawaiians. The same could be done in Cuba, lease the land with the option to buy. Regardless, There will be a solution to this and it will have to be quick since buildings and properties throughout Cuba are crumbling. And by the way, liquor and cigars are big exports when the markets open up but of course not enough to make a dent in fixing the dam. ps: Saw Antonio Castro on ESPN and he was better than expected. Watch out for his rising star.

  • December 18, 2015 at 9:03 am

    The “real problem” as you point out is exactly what I mean when I say that the Castros have to get their act together. Slapping on a coat of paint and planting a few more palm trees ain’t cutting it. Major airport infrastructure investment is necessary. The Castros need big-league money. They are going to have blink first, second, third, etc. to attract that kind of investment.

  • December 18, 2015 at 8:46 am

    The notion of “build it and they will come” is the stuff of fairy tales and Disneyland Paris. In the real world if the Castros want the kind of up front investment they need they are going to have to give up something. So, let’s see. …we don’t need doctors. We have all the rum we need. We aren’t big cigar smokers. We even have cheap medicine. So what’s left? Nothing. That’s the problem. The Castros don’t have anything to trade.

  • December 17, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Where there’s money, there’s a way and I assure you there’s money! The real problem will be housing as the throngs who will be heading to Cuba will need lodging and basic necessities. If the heads of state understand the potential, they better change their attitudes and get the ball rolling. Billions needs to be spent just to get these projects off the ground. Question now who will blink first with regards to the expat’s and the money they have to invest and the regime.

  • December 17, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    GREAT. With that we should be seeing some lower fares to Cuba.

  • December 17, 2015 at 11:20 am

    Landing privileges in the US come at a high price. The FAA requires foreign carriers to meet a rigorous maintenance schedule and maintain transparent record-keeping. Anyone who has ever flown Cubana Airlines knows that this will be, at best, a challenge for the Castros. On the other side, major US carriers demand high-end aircraft support services to ensure rapid turnaround. Again, despite the recent Brazil – financed renovations to Jose Marti Int’l in Havana, it is not likely that the major carriers are in a rush to land in Cuba and risk stranding their planes for lack of equipment necessary to make the common repairs that come up. Bottom line: this is good news for the Obama administration’s PR campaign to establish his Cuba legacy. But in real terms doesn’t mean a whole lot. Cuba has to get its own act together before these new opportunities will bring value.

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