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.