Now you can fly to Cuba In this Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016 photo passengers enter the charter departures terminal of the a Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)
Now you can fly to Cuba
Lexile

The United States and Cuba have agreed to an important deal.  It restores commercial air traffic between the countries.  No regular commercial flights have been available for five decades. The agreement will allow dozens of daily flights.  They will bring hundreds of thousands more American travelers a year to the island. Cuba is south of Florida. The flights could begin as early as this fall.
 
Immediately after the signing, the U.S. Department of Transportation opened bidding by American air carriers on as many as 110 U.S.-Cuba flights a day. It is more than five times the current number. All flights operating between the two countries today are charters.
 
The restart of commercial flights will be an important development in U.S.-Cuba trade. Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro announced in late 2014 that they would begin normalizing ties. 

This was after a half-century of opposition. The Obama administration is eager to make rapid progress on building trade and diplomatic ties with Cuba.  The goal is to do it before the president leaves office. That will happen next January.  So the coming weeks are seen as particularly crucial to building momentum ahead of a trip he hopes to make to Havana. That visit could come by the end of March.
 
"Today is a historic day in the relationship between Cuba and the U.S.,"  American Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. He and Cuban Transportation Minister Adel Yzquierdo Rodriguez signed the deal Feb. 16. They met in a ceremony at Havana's Hotel Nacional.
 
The U.S. Department of Transportation expects to award the new routes by the summer. The winning airlines then must negotiate their own deals with Cuba.
 
Yzquierdo declined an interview request. But Foxx said that he believed Cuba was eager to restore commercial air service.
 
"People will actually be able to go buy a ticket. And fly to Cuba on a commercial airline," Foxx said. "That's a pretty big step. We haven't been able to do that in 50 years."
 
The agreement allows 20 regular daily U.S. flights to Havana. That will be in addition to the current 10-15 charter flights a day. The rest would be to other Cuban cities.  Cuba and the U.S. are only 90 miles apart at the closest point.
 
Nearly 160,000 U.S. leisure travelers flew to Cuba last year. That number does not include the hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans visiting family. The Cuban-Americans fly on charter flights. They have left and returned from Florida.
 
Commercial flights will make travel to Cuba far easier for U.S. travelers. The new flights would include features such as online booking and 24-hour customer service. Those features largely are not available in the charter industry.
 
U.S. visitors to Cuba will still have to qualify under one of the travel categories legally authorized by the U.S. government. Tourism is still barred by law. But the number of legal reasons to go to Cuba has grown. The rules are loosely enforced. Today, the distinction from tourism has blurred significantly.
 
Commercial travel will give travelers the ability to simply check an online box on a long list of authorized categories.
 
The deal does not contemplate flights by Cuba's national airline to the United States.
 
American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller said the company plans to bid on routes from Miami and other unspecified "American hubs."
 
United Airlines is also looking to serve Havana from some of its hubs. That is according to spokesman Luke Punzenberger. The carrier's major hubs include Chicago, Houston, Washington and Newark, New Jersey. It currently does not fly charters to Cuba.
 
JetBlue Airways said it was eager to offer service between "multiple" cities in the United States and the island. JetBlue spokesman Doug McGraw said, "interest in Cuba has reached levels not seen for a generation."

The United States and Cuba have agreed to an important deal.  It restores commercial air traffic between the countries.  No regular commercial flights have been available for five decades. The agreement will allow dozens of daily flights.  They will bring hundreds of thousands more American travelers a year to the island. Cuba is south of Florida. The flights could begin as early as this fall.
 
Immediately after the signing, the U.S. Department of Transportation opened bidding by American air carriers on as many as 110 U.S.-Cuba flights a day. It is more than five times the current number. All flights operating between the two countries today are charters.
 
The restart of commercial flights will be an important development in U.S.-Cuba trade. Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro announced in late 2014 that they would begin normalizing ties. 

This was after a half-century of opposition. The Obama administration is eager to make rapid progress on building trade and diplomatic ties with Cuba.  The goal is to do it before the president leaves office. That will happen next January.  So the coming weeks are seen as particularly crucial to building momentum ahead of a trip he hopes to make to Havana. That visit could come by the end of March.
 
"Today is a historic day in the relationship between Cuba and the U.S.,"  American Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. He and Cuban Transportation Minister Adel Yzquierdo Rodriguez signed the deal Feb. 16. They met in a ceremony at Havana's Hotel Nacional.
 
The U.S. Department of Transportation expects to award the new routes by the summer. The winning airlines then must negotiate their own deals with Cuba.
 
Yzquierdo declined an interview request. But Foxx said that he believed Cuba was eager to restore commercial air service.
 
"People will actually be able to go buy a ticket. And fly to Cuba on a commercial airline," Foxx said. "That's a pretty big step. We haven't been able to do that in 50 years."
 
The agreement allows 20 regular daily U.S. flights to Havana. That will be in addition to the current 10-15 charter flights a day. The rest would be to other Cuban cities.  Cuba and the U.S. are only 90 miles apart at the closest point.
 
Nearly 160,000 U.S. leisure travelers flew to Cuba last year. That number does not include the hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans visiting family. The Cuban-Americans fly on charter flights. They have left and returned from Florida.
 
Commercial flights will make travel to Cuba far easier for U.S. travelers. The new flights would include features such as online booking and 24-hour customer service. Those features largely are not available in the charter industry.
 
U.S. visitors to Cuba will still have to qualify under one of the travel categories legally authorized by the U.S. government. Tourism is still barred by law. But the number of legal reasons to go to Cuba has grown. The rules are loosely enforced. Today, the distinction from tourism has blurred significantly.
 
Commercial travel will give travelers the ability to simply check an online box on a long list of authorized categories.
 
The deal does not contemplate flights by Cuba's national airline to the United States.
 
American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller said the company plans to bid on routes from Miami and other unspecified "American hubs."
 
United Airlines is also looking to serve Havana from some of its hubs. That is according to spokesman Luke Punzenberger. The carrier's major hubs include Chicago, Houston, Washington and Newark, New Jersey. It currently does not fly charters to Cuba.
 
JetBlue Airways said it was eager to offer service between "multiple" cities in the United States and the island. JetBlue spokesman Doug McGraw said, "interest in Cuba has reached levels not seen for a generation."

Filed Under:  
Assigned 34 times
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why must airlines bid for the chance to fly to Cuba?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (1)
  • ryanr3-bur
    4/10/2017 - 02:00 p.m.

    it is rare to fly to Cuba. I never been to Cuba

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT