Flights from Philadelphia to Cuba approved

Fayette Advocate

By: Joanna Estrada

USA carriers have requested nearly 60 daily flights to the Cuban capital, the department said.

Twin Cities-based Sun Country Airlines is among six USA carriers cleared to offer scheduled service to Cuba.

On Friday, six airlines in the United States were approved to resume scheduled commercial air service to Cuba, marking the first time permission was granted in over 50 years.

The U.S. Department of Transportation gave the approval to American Airlines, JetBlue, Silver Airways, Southwest, Sun Country and Frontier.

American Airlines will use its A319 planes for flights between Miami and Cuba. Cuba still hasn't officially approved the new flights, either, but such approval considered so likely that US airlines plan to start selling tickets in the next few days, the AP said.

One of the carriers, Silver Airways, reported today that they have reached agreement to fly to all nine Cuban cities out of Fort Lauderdale. The carrier will operate to Camaguey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo del Sur, Cienfuegos, Holguin, Manzanillo, Santa Clara, Santiago de Cuba and Matanzas.

Travel to Cuba is allowed only for 12 preapproved reasons, including visiting family or religious, educational or cultural reasons.

There will be 90 round-trip flights between the cities when the agreement goes into effect.

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.

Last May, nine airlines filed applications with the DOT, seeking the approval of regular flights to Cuba, with capital city Havana as the most coveted destination.

"It makes no sense that Americans will soon be able to go online and book a flight to Cuba, but US policy will still prohibit tourist travel to our island neighbor", said James Williams, president of Engage Cuba. A decision on those routes will be announced this summer.

Now, some American businesses are opening operations in Cuba, and US cruise ships have begun making ports of call to the island nation.