Flight options between the U.S. and Cuba to increase next summer
Cuban aviation officials and their counterparts in the United States recently signed an agreement for the restoration of commercial flights connecting these neighbouring countries. The service was suspended in the early 1960s, but after the normalisation of diplomatic relations and the re-engagement between presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro, civil aviation issues have been speedily discussed.
After 50 years of travelling with several restrictions and onboard uncomfortable charters, Americans and Cubans will have the opportunity to use commercial flights to travel between both countries, as it was informed on February by authorities of both nations.
Officials from the Cuban and United States governments signed a deal last month in Havana, establishing that more than 100 flights a day will be operated from next summer, covering the distances between various American airports and those in the island open to international air traffic.
This will radically change the current state of affairs in the sector, marked by the economic embargo imposed on the island by the U.S. more than five decades ago. This policy had severely restricted commercial trade with Cuba, including the banning of regular flights from the U.S.
But as the political climate has been gradually changing since December 2014, more Americans are going to Cuba, and analysts have predicted that the number of travellers will rise to millions if the embargo is finally lifted.
Several companies based in the U.S. have moved rapidly in the last year, offering charter services as a way to ensure their share in a forthcoming major business. Delta Airlines and JetBlue are among them, and it is expected that they also will be among the first airlines to operate commercial flights.
Each of these companies will be allowed to schedule 10 flights a day to any of the airports open to international service in Cuba: Camagüey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguín, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara y Santiago de Cuba.
For now, only American companies will offer regular service between the U.S. and Cuba. Brandon Belford, head of the Department of Aeronautics Transportation in the U.S. said to AFP that they
“...do not anticipate that there will be Cuban-owned aircraft serving destinations in the United States in the near future.”
However, the accord is favourable also because it implies that flights will be offered at more competitive, lower prices, due to the huge increase in daily flights. At present, a ticket for a charter flight from New York to Havana costs around 850 USD, and 450 USD from Miami to Havana.
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