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Cuba: US Airlines Welcome the Re-opeing of Embassies in Washington and Havana

Airlines and Aviation

Airlines welcome news that the Cuban Embassy in the United States and the US Embassy in Cuba have re-opened, but travel restrictions still prevent scheduled flights between the 2 countries.

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Cuba_Hotel_Nacional_Habana_Credit_Kotoviski

Hotel Nacional in Havana, Cuba. Photo Credit: Kotoviski.

 

The United States Embassy in Havana, Cuba, and the Cuban Embassy in Washington, DC, have reopened following the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the 2 countries earlier this year. Restrictions against travel for tourism and scheduled airline flights, however, remain in force.

Airlines welcome news that the United States and Cuba have re-establlished diplomatic relations. They were broken in 1961 following the Communist Revolution, which brought Fidel Castro to power in 1959.

While the types of authorized travel between the United States and Cuba were expanded to 12 categories earlier this year, travel for tourism is still not allowed.

Airlines have offered chartered flights between the 2 countries for years, but regularly scheduled airline service has not been permitted.

Just how long tourists and business travellers will have to wait for airline service to begin is anyone's guess, but once it begins, the number of Americans visiting Cuba is expected to take off like a Boeing Dreamliner.

"A new stage will begin, long and complex, on the road toward normalization," Cuban President Raul Castro said in a televised address last week to the Cuban people.

"Which will require the will to find solutions to the problems that have accumulated over more than 5 decades and hurt ties between our nations and peoples."

Airlines React

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines have long offered chartered flights run by licensed charter companies, with most of them flying out of and into Miami International Airport in Florida, which has a large Cuban-American community.

JetBlue Airways launched flights between Cuba and New York City's JFK International Airport and Tampa International Airport in Florida earlier this year.

"The reopening of the United States and Cuban embassies in Havana and Washington is an important step toward building new commercial relationships and re-establishing scheduled air service between the U.S. and Cuba," says American's Chairman and CEO Doug Parker.

"American Airlines has operated charter flights to Cuba for nearly 25 years, and we stand ready to begin scheduled service when it's allowed."

United Airlines is equally upbeat, issuing the following statement on 21 July 2015:

"United Airlines congratulates the U.S. and Cuban governments on the historic reopening of their embassies today in both countries' capitals, which have been closed for more than a half century. We look forward to continuing our constructive dialogue with both governments about providing our customers service between our 2 nations, subject to government approval."

Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and other cruise lines say they hope to start sailing to Havana as soon as possible. Carnival, in fact, has already obtained permission from the U.S. government to travel to Cuba and plans to start sailing there in May 2016.

Currently Authorized Cuban Travel

People can currently travel from the United States to Cuba for the following 12 reasons:

  • 1. Family visits;
  • 2. Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations;
  • 3. Journalistic activity;
  • 4. Professional research and professional meetings;
  • 5. Educational activities;
  • 6. Religious activities;
  • 7. Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions;
  • 8. Support for the Cuban people;
  • 9. Humanitarian projects;
  • 10. Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes;
  • 11. Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials;
  • 12. Certain authorized export transactions.

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