Agreement signed for the start of commercial flights between Cuba and the U.S
An agreement has been signed to operate commercial flights between the United States and Cuba for the first time in five decades. The flights look set to commence in autumn this year, and more than 100 daily flights are expected to transport American and Cubans between the two nations since the U.S enforced a trade embargo on the communist island in 1960.
For the first time in 50 years, commercial flights between Cuba and the United States are set to resume.
The two countries signed an agreement that could see flights commencing between Cuba and the U.S this autumn, freely transporting Americans and Cubans for the first time since U.S enforced a trade embargo on the communist island in 1960. More than 100 commercial flights are expected to operate every day, which five times more than the number of current charter flights.
Anthony Foxx, the United States Transportation Secretary branded the latest deal a:
"... critically important milestone in the US effort to engage with Cuba."
The news has been welcomed by major U.S airlines, and United Airlines expressed its support, saying:
"United Airlines today applauded the historic signing by representatives of the United States and Cuba governments of a formal arrangement to reinstitute air service between the two countries."
More than 10 million Americans are expected to visit Cuba every year if the 54-year-long travel embargo is lifted, and many other nationalities are keen to visit the island and soak up its old-world charm.
U.S. airlines are still prohibited from selling tickets for Cuba flights, but they are currently permitted to operate the aircraft for charter companies that have been authorised by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control. They can sell travel to Cuba for travellers that meet one of the 12 approved categories set by the Obama administration that include educational, cultural, and religious purposes.
In 2014, U.S President Barack Obama and Cuba's president Raul Castro announced that they would resume diplomatic relations, following more than five decades of hostilities. The two countries reopened embassies in Washington and Havana in July 2015.
Earlier this week, it was announced that Obama will be travelling to Cuba from 21st-22nd March, 2016, accompanied by his wife, Michelle Obama; the first lady to visit the island since Calvin Coolidge travelled to Cuba in 1928.
Located south of the United States in the in the Caribbean Sea, the island nation boasts popular tourist destinations such as the historic capital city, Havana; the stunning Jardines del Rey archipelago with virgin cays and sapphire ocean waters and colourful coral reefs; the Spanish Colonial city of Trinidad; and the popular beach resort of Varadero with 21 kilometres of coastline and white sandy beaches.
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