The Obama administration tentatively approved Thursday eight airlines to start nonstop flights from the United States to Havana, Cuba, advancing President Barack Obama’s effort to re-engage the communist country.
“Today we take another important step toward delivering on President Obama’s promise to re-engage Cuba,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement posted on the Department of Transportation’s website. The U.S. approved flights to nine other Cuban cities, including Santa Clara and Santiago de Cuba, in June.
Having regular air service for the first time in more than 50 years “holds tremendous potential to reunite Cuban American families and foster education and opportunities for American businesses of all sizes,” he said.
Foxx said the decision would not be final until after a 30-day public comment period.
Eight U.S. airlines - Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, and United - will begin a total of 20 round-trip daily flights to Havana later this year.
The departure cities to Havana include Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; Houston; Los Angeles; Newark, New Jersey; New York; and four in Florida, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Tampa. Flights from Chicago, Philadelphia and Minneapolis to Cuban cities other than Havana had already been approved.