Obama Admin Approves U.S. Airline Flights To Cuba

Kerry Picket Political Reporter
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The White House announced Friday that the Department of Transportation (DOT) approved six domestic airlines to start scheduled flights between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis/St. Paul to Cuba as early as this fall.

Each airline, according to the administration’s arrangement, can operate up to 10 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and each of Cuba’s nine international airports, other than Havana, for a total of 90 daily round-trips.  Longer term, the arrangement also provides for up to 20 daily round-trip flights between the U.S. and Havana.

Calling it an effort to “normalize relations with Cuba,” the White House confirmed that the airlines approved to begin these flights are American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines, and Sun Country Airlines.

“Last year, President Obama announced that it was time to ‘begin a new journey’ with the Cuban people,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Today, we are delivering on his promise by re-launching scheduled air service to Cuba after more than half a century.”

Sec. Fox and Department of State Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Charles Rivkin signed a non-legally-binding arrangement to re-establish scheduled air service between the two countries.

In late May, the Cuban government declared that small and medium-size businesses on the island would be legalized, despite the Party Congress’ opposition to such a change.

Most crucially, there is the daily bonanza of ever-multiplying dollars from U.S. tourism. “More than 94,000 Americans have visited Cuba from Jan-Apr 2016,” Josefina Vidal, a Cuban official who heads the U.S. division of the Foreign Ministry proudly tweeted in May, “a 93% increase with respect to same period 2015.”

President Obama spent three days in the communist country back in March, making him the first sitting president since Calvin Coolidge to visit the island. His trip came 15 months after he announced the renewal of diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Cuba.

While he and Cuban President Raul Castro held a joint press conference, Obama did not meet with Raul’s brother, long time Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

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