The United States approved scheduled flights to Cuban cities other than Havana from five U.S. cities, with service starting as soon as this fall, the U.S. Transportation Department said in a statement on Friday.
American Airlines Group Inc, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways Corp, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines Co and Sun Country Airlines will be allowed up to 10 daily round-trip flights, the department said. The flights will be allowed from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Philadelphia and Minneapolis/St. Paul, it added.
The United States and Cuba signed an agreement this year restoring commercial air service between the former Cold War foes for the first time in decades. Under the agreement, 20 daily round-trip flights will be allowed to Havana but U.S. carriers have requested nearly 60 flights per day, far exceeding the limit.
The Transportation Department said it expects to reach a final decision on which carriers will get the limited Havana slots this summer.
The department said seven U.S. airlines applied to provide service to other Cuban cities. With the exception of Eastern Airlines, which has not received necessary licensing, the government approved all of the route proposals.
(Reporting by David Shepardson, Susan Heavey, Jeffrey Dastin and Tim Ahmann; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and James Dalgleish)