US carriers to launch new flights to Havana

The US Department of Transportation will allow major airlines to increase the frequency of flights to Cuba’s capital

Major US airlines can soon add new flights to Havana as the Department of Transportation has issued a new proposal allowing them to launch new connections.

Delta and American Airlines will increase the frequency of their existing route between Miami and Havana — Fasttailwind / Shutterstock
Delta and American Airlines will increase the frequency of their existing route between Miami and Havana — Fasttailwind / Shutterstock

While many American carriers already fly to Havana, the increased frequency will make Cuba even more accessible at a time when tourism there is slowly decreasing.

Delta and American Airlines plan to add flights from Miami, while United, that operates a route between Houston and Havana once a week, will now start flying daily.

Southwest aims to add services from Fort Lauderdale, as will JetBlue, which also seeks to increase flights from Boston.  

“The Department’s principal objective in making its proposed selections was to maximise public benefits, including choosing carriers that offered and could maintain the best ongoing service between the United States and Havana,” the DOT said.

JetBlue will add services to Fort Lauderdale and increase its connection from Boston — Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock Havana
JetBlue will add services to Fort Lauderdale and increase its connections from Boston — Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock

The situation is related to the Obama administration, which relaxed diplomatic relations between the two nations in 2016 and led to an increased demand for new routes from the carriers. However, many quickly handed the awarded approvals back.

Frontier Airlines, for example, based their decision to cancel their operation on economic reasons: “Costs in Havana to turn an aircraft significantly exceeded our initial assumptions,” they said.

The Department of Transportation, therefore, decided to allow different airlines apply for new connections once again.

United will turn the weekly service from Houston into a daily service —  Philip Pilosian / Shutterstock Havana
United will turn the weekly service from Houston into a daily one — Philip Pilosian / Shutterstock

“Under an arrangement with Cuba signed in 2016, each country may operate up to 20 daily roundtrip flights between the United States and Havana. Several US carriers that were awarded flights in 2016 have since returned them, and DOT is seeking to relocate them to interested carriers,” the DOT said.

They continued: “Because the applicants seek more opportunities than available, DOT is conducting a proceeding to allocate the opportunities in a manner that will maximise public benefits.”