The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has proposed to select eight US airlines to begin scheduled flights between Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, Orlando and Tampa and Havana as early as this fall.
The proposal comes nearly one year after the United States and Cuba re-established diplomatic relations in July 2015.
“Today we take another important step toward delivering on President Obama’s promise to re-engage Cuba,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Restoring regular air service holds tremendous potential to reunite Cuban American families and foster education and opportunities for American businesses of all sizes.”
A dozen US airlines applied for the chance to operate scheduled passenger and cargo service to Havana. Collectively, the airlines applied for nearly 60 flights per day to Havana, exceeding the 20 daily flights made available by arrangement between the two governments. The Department’s principal objective in making its proposed selections was to maximize public benefits, including choosing airlines that offered and could maintain the best ongoing service between the US and Havana.
The airlines receiving the tentative awards are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and United Airlines.
DOT’s proposal allocates non-stop Havana service to areas of substantial Cuban-American population, as well as to important aviation hub cities.
The Department’s process of selecting carriers offers an opportunity to present the public with a wide array of travel choices in the type of airline (network, low-cost, ultra-low-cost); choices of airport; and choices of non-stop or connecting service. The DOT’s proposed selections would simultaneously address service needs while promoting competition.
Objections to the DOT’s tentative decision can be submitted up until July 22. The DOT expects to reach a final decision later this summer.