For the first time in five decades, Americans will be able to purchase a plane ticket to Cuba like they’d purchase a ticket to Miami.
On Tuesday, February 16, U.S. and Cuban officials met in Havana to eliminate the 50-year ban on American commercial carriers from operating on the island.
The news comes as travel between the U.S. and Cuba surges, even though the State
Department warns U.S. citizens that the ban on touristic travel to Cuba currently remains intact. However, the number of legal reasons to go to Cubahas grown so large and is so loosely enforced that the distinction from “tourism” seems almost nonexistent.
Barring other announcements, the restart of commercial flights will be the most significant
development in U.S.-Cuba relations since President Obama and Raul Castro announced the
normalization of ties. Cuban relations appear to be a focal point of the Obama administration, building both trade and diplomacy with the island, before the president leaves office. Already, he has a trip planned for Havana at the end of March.
U.S. air carriers are eager to jump on the opportunity to fly out of Cuba, which would allow 20
regular daily flights to Havana—in addition to 10-15 charter flights per day. American Airlines,
United Airlines, Spirit, Southwest, Delta and JetBlue have begun their bidding on routes from
various “American hubs” to Havana. JetBlue spokesman Doug McGraw said on February 16 that, “interest in Cuba has reached levels not seen for a generation.”
Tom is a travel writer, part-time hitchhiker, and he’s currently trying to imitate Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? but with more sunscreen and jorts.