In a historic agreement signed this week, the United States and Cuba have now resumed commercial air traffic between the two countries for the first time in 50 years, with routes expected to be running by fall 2016. Currently, only chartered flights are allowed to operate between the two countries.
This means that U.S. airlines can now start bidding on U.S.—Cuba routes, with a cap at 110 daily flights, as reported by the Associate Press. The agreement will allow for 20 regular daily flights from the U.S. to Havana, in addition to the already 10-15 charter flights. The remaining 75 or so routes can be to other Cuban cities, like Santiago. Airlines will have 15 days to request rights to Cuba routes. As reported to the Associated press, American, United, Southwest, Spirit, Delta, and JetBlue all expressed interest in bidding for routes from their respective major hubs.
It is important to note that U.S. tourists will still have to qualify under a travel category authorized by the U.S. government to travel (even commercially), but there are an increasing amount of broader categories, making travel much easier to be approved. With commercial flights, visitors will be able to check an online box to identity their reason for travel, in addition to other features unavailable with chartered flights, like online booking and 24-hour customer service.
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