Drive American

Published on Friday, January 16, 2015

United Airlines plans Cuba flights

After the US administration said it would further loosen travel restrictions to Cuba, United Airlines has wasted no time in announcing plans to start scheduled flights to Havana.

The carrier said it would initially like to operate services out of its hubs at Newark and Houston.

"We plan to serve Cuba, subject to government approvals, and look forward to doing so from our global gateways of Newark and Houston," United spokesman Rahsaan Johnson said in a statement.

Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways have also recently expressed an interest in flying to Cuba.

"We are interested in providing service to Cuba from multiple U.S. cities, as soon as legally permitted. Our existing charter program to and from Cuba has given us valuable experience in the market and a strong foundation for future expansion," said JetBlue spokesman Morgan Johnston.

New rules which kick in from today still do not allow for unrestricted general travel to the island nation but airlines can fly to Cuba without the need for a special license.

For that to happen the two governments will need to agree a new air treaty first which could still be a lengthy process.

The US Transportation Department acknowledged that some airlines still have long dormant permission to fly to Cuba dating back to the pre-revolutionary 1950's but will have to start the approval process again from scratch.

"The US government will engage with the government of Cuba to assess our aviation relations and establish a bilateral basis for further expansion of air services," said assistant secretary for aviation and international affairs Susan L. Kurland.

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