American travelers will soon be able to fly directly to Cuba. // © 2016 iStock
The U.S. State Department announced on Dec. 17 that the U.S. and Cuba have agreed to restore direct, commercial flights between the two countries. Approximately 20 daily flights to Havana and 10 flights per day to other Cuban cities are expected to be authorized.
Why It Matters:
This is a milestone for the travel industry, including agents, as such flights between the U.S. and Cuba have been unavailable for more than 50 years. Several U.S. airlines, including American Airlines, JetBlue, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, swiftly applauded the agreement and said they intend to apply for route allocations through the United States Department of Transportation. Although U.S. law still limits travel to Cuba, including the ban of leisure tourism, the move is a big step in an exciting direction.
- Thomas Engle, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Transportation Affairs, led the U.S. interagency delegation, and Yuri Gala Lopez, Cuban Ambassador, led the Cuban delegation.
- Charter operations will continue.
What They Are Saying:
"ASTA congratulates the State Department on reaching an agreement with Cuba that brings us closer to restoring the right of all Americans to fly to Cuba, which has been denied them for far too long,” said Zane Kerby, president and CEO of American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). “ASTA member travel agents believe that Americans ought to be allowed to travel across the globe without restriction, allowing them to act as ambassadors of freedom and American values abroad.”