Several media outlets have reported that the United States and Cuba officially signed an aviation agreement Tuesday that paves the way for the first regularly scheduled flights between the countries in nearly 50 years.
USA Today reports that the deal opens up 110 flights to Cuba on U.S. carriers. Of those, 20 will be to Havana. Beyond the 20 allocated for Havana, there will be 10 daily flights allowed on routes to each of Cuba's nine other international airports.
The Associated Press (AP) writes that Tuesday's announcement opens “a 15-day window for U.S. airlines to request rights to the new Cuba routes. U.S. carriers would then have to strike deals with Cuban aviation officials, a process the U.S. hopes will be complete by the fall.”
According to USA Today, American Airlines said it will definitely apply for flights to Cuba from its hub at Miami, already one of the USA’s leading gateways to the Caribbean and Latin America. Additionally, American said in a statement that it is “also considering applying to serve Cuba from other hubs.”
Other airlines rushed out similar announcements.
Among those was JetBlue Airways, one of the fastest growing carriers in the Caribbean this decade, according to USA Today. JetBlue indicated it would seek approval for multiple routes between the nations, echoing comments it has made previously about its intentions for Cuba.
Delta Air Lines joined the list, saying it would apply for Cuba flights from its main hub in Atlanta, according to USA Today. The carrier indicated Cuba flights would be considered from its other hubs, too.
According to the USA Today report, United Airlines said it “intends to apply to offer service between some of its global gateways and Havana … .” United did not specify which hubs it would seek approval for.
Southwest Airlines' statement read a bit more cautiously than its rivals, saying only that Tuesday’s “signed agreement allows us to engage in a process to consider that service,” according to the USA Today report.
Even Spirit Airlines – the USA’s biggest “ultra low-cost carrier" – said it would to enter the bidding, with spokesman Paul Berry telling the AP the carrier plans to submit a proposal, according to USA Today.
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