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US approves flights to Cuba from 10 cities .

Friday, Jul 8, 2016,10:59 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Washington | The US has given tentative approval to eight airlines to begin scheduled flights to Cuba from 10 American cities in a bid to bridge the gap between the two countries.

Today we take another important step toward delivering on President Obama’s promise to reengage Cuba, said US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Restoring regular air service holds tremendous potential to reunite Cuban American families and foster education and opportunities for American businesses of all sizes, Foxx said.

In a statement, Department of Transportation proposed to select eight US airlines to begin scheduled flights between Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, Orlando, and Tampa and Havana as early as this fall. The proposal comes nearly one year after the US and Cuba reestablished diplomatic relations in July 2015.

A dozen US airlines applied for the chance to operate scheduled passenger and cargo service to Havana. Collectively, the airlines applied for nearly 60 flights per day to Havana, exceeding the 20 daily flights made available by arrangement between the two governments.

The airlines receiving the tentative awards are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines and United Airlines.

On February 16, Foxx and Department of State Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Charles Rivkin signed an arrangement with their Cuban counterparts opening the way for scheduled air service between the two countries to resume after more than 50 years. This new arrangement will facilitate visits for travelers that fall under one of 12 categories authorised by the US Department of the Treasurys Office of Foreign Assets Control.

At the time of the signing, the administration announced that scheduled service would begin later in 2016. Under the arrangement, each country may operate up to 20 daily round trip flights between the US and Havana.

The arrangement also provides each country with the opportunity to operate up to 10 daily round trip flights between the US and each of Cuba’s nine international airports, other than Havana, for a total of 90 daily round trips. DOT announced the approval of six US airlines’ applications to serve cities other than Havana on June 10.

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