The State Department announced on December 17th, that Cuba and the United States of America have come to an agreement to recommence commercial air flights. This is the first time in over five decades that the countries have been able to come to this agreement.
While U.S. law bans tourism travel to Cuba, the new arrangement will allow for scheduled air flights, in addition to the charter operations. Officials did not comment on the date flights would resume, as the Federal Aviation Administration requires additional steps to ensure specific regulations around safety are met. Representatives within the airline industry are quite pleased with this new agreement.
Scott Laurence, JetBlue notes that the company will review the terms of the agreement to understand how the airline can expand charter service to regularly scheduled flights. He added that their years of experience in Cuba, along with their unrivaled customer relations positions makes them the airline of choice when travelling to the country.
Since the announcement, American Airlines will be submitting a U.S.A-Cuba flight service proposal to the U.S. Department of Transportation, hoping to receive approval for service in early 2016.
CNN reports the agreement between the U.S. and Cuba is the most recent step in continuing to warm relations between the two countries. Bruno Parilla, Cuba’s foreign minister, visited Washington in July to re-open his country’s embassy in the U.S.; while John Kerry, secretary of state visited Cuba in August, to open the U.S. embassy there. This is the first time this has been done since 1961. U.S. President Barrack Obama and Cuba’s Raul Castro met for over an hour in April, which was the first time the leaders of these two countries have sat down for talks in over half a century.
Still, it’s important to note some remnants from the Cold War remain, moreover the embargo is still intact, with support from Republican lawmakers who have criticized Obama’s efforts with Cuba.