American Airlines' first commercial flight to Cuba is scheduled to take off from Miami International Airport on the morning of Sept. 7 — pending Cuban government approval.
American and five other U.S. airlines received U.S. Department of Transportation approval Friday for the first regularly scheduled flights to Cuba in more than half a century. The airlines plan to fly to nine Cuban cities outside the capital of Havana that have international airports. DOT said it expects to award the competitive Havana routes some time this summer.
American plans to begin scheduled daily service to both Cienfuegos, a city of Cuba’s southern coast, and Holguín on Sept. 7, but the Cienfuegos flight gets honors as the historic trip because it leaves earlier in the day than the Holguín flight. American says it plans to begin selling tickets for its new Cuba flights at the end of June.
It will be the first-ever scheduled service to Cuba for American. But it has leased its planes to Cuba charter air companies for the past 25 years and last year 1,200 charter flights to Cuba operated using American planes.
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DOT also approved American’s request to operate regularly scheduled service from Miami International Airport to Camagüey, Santa Clara and Matanzas where Varadero Beach is located. These flights are also subject to Cuban government approval.
JetBlue, Southwest, and Silver Airways plan to fly from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
JetBlue, for example, plans to offer three daily round-trips, beginning this fall, to Camagüey, Holguín , and Santa Clara and will begin selling tickets this summer.
“While the Department of Transportation is still considering applications for routes to Havana, the three cities announced today cover diverse regions of Cuba — ‘the authentic island’ — and offer travelers access to a variety of destinations and activities,” JetBlue said in its blog, Out of the Blue.