HAVANA, CUBA – The renewed relations between the United States and Cuba continue to come in leaps in bounds. Earlier in February, the U.S. and Cuba have signed a deal to open scheduled flights between the two nations – potentially 110 round-trip flights to ten Cuban destinations worth.
“This arrangement will continue to allow charter operations and establish scheduled air service, which will facilitate an increase in authorized travel, enhance traveler choices, and promote people-to-people links between the two countries,” said the State Department. This decision came on the one year anniversary of President Barack Obama’s decision to ease travel restrictions on Cuba, according to Conde Nast Traveler.
“Today is a historic day in the relationship between Cuba and the U.S.,” said Anthony Foxx, the U.S. Transportation Secretary, according to Conde Nast Traveler. Foxx and Cuba’s Transportation Minister, Adele Yzquierdo Rodriguez were the ones who signed the deal at Havana’s Hotel Nacional.
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) February 16, 2016
The U.S. Department of Transportation allotted 15 day period in which nearly all major U.S. airlines put forward proposals to bid for Cuba air routes.
Once all the bids are in the proposals will be reviewed by DOT officials to determine the best choices. The DOT said that its officials will be reviewing the proposals with an eye for providing the most benefit for the most passengers, says USA Today. The winners should be decided by this summer.
After the selection process the airlines must settle negotiations with Cuba. Barring no hiccups, Commercial flights should start this fall.
Destinations of the flights to Cuba include: Camaguey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguin, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara, Santiago de Cuba and approximately 20 to Havana.
Flight routs between the two countries will be determined in a few months.
All current flights between the U.S. and Cuba are charted. These flights are at a current frequency of about 10 to 15 a day.
— PCS (@PrefConvSvcs) February 25, 2016
In more exciting news of Cuba and U.S. relations – direct mail service is reportedly being re-established, said Bazaar Daily News. No date is yet set for when this is going to happen.
— Mohammed SHK (@ForevrHaleem) February 27, 2016
For all the excitement this news brings, there is still at least one snag. General tourism is not a qualification that will get you to Cuba. Passengers must fall into a “Purposeful Travel” category and meet 12 requirements to Travel to Cuba.
The amount looser regulations and broadening of reasons however make this a large hoop to jump through.