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July 21, 2016

DOT Announces Final, Tentative U.S.-Cuba Commercial Flights

On June 10th, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) approved six domestic airlines to provide scheduled U.S.-Cuba passenger flights between certain U.S. cities and Cuban cities (other than Havana).  The selected U.S. cities are Miami, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis.  The six approved U.S. airlines are American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines, and Sun Country Airlines.  Moreover, on July 7th, DOT proposed to select eight U.S. airlines to begin scheduled flights between Havana, Cuba and Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, Orlando, and Tampa as early as this fall. The airlines receiving the tentative awards to begin flights between the U.S. and Havana are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and United Airlines. The DOT expects to reach a final decision regarding U.S.-Cuba (Havana) flights later this summer.

The new U.S.-Cuba arrangement signed in February of this year allows each country to operate up to 20 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and Havana and 10 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and each of the other nine Cuban international airports. The arrangement allows for unlimited charter services.

Travel by U.S. persons from the U.S. to Cuba, whether on the DOT-approved commercial flights discussed here or otherwise, remains subject to the regulations maintained by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). In other words, activities in or involving Cuba must be authorized by OFAC either under a General License or by a specific license. It is important to note that OFAC has issued general licenses authorizing 12 categories of travel listed in section 515.560 of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations. Travel for unauthorized activities, including tourism, remains prohibited. 

For more information on the approved flights between U.S. cities and Cuban cities (other than Havana), please click here.

For more information on DOT’s tentative decision regarding flights between U.S. cities and Havana, please click here.