WASHINGTON – At least eight U.S. airlines have submitted their applications to begin direct flights to Cuba, with their requests for routes to Havana outnumbering the amount agreed upon last month between Washington and the Caribbean island.
Based on information provided by the carriers, which had until midnight Wednesday to submit their applications, the requests include flights to several Cuban cities from Los Angeles, Miami, Denver, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, Boston and different Florida cities.
Havana was by far the most popular destination.
The Cuban and U.S. governments signed a memorandum of understanding on civil aviation last month that included the establishment of direct air routes between the two nations for the first time in 50 years.
Up to 110 additional daily flights are allowed under the terms of the MOU, although only 20 of those can link U.S. cities and Havana.
The agreement, signed seven months after the two countries restored diplomatic relations on July 20, 2015, extends service beyond the charter flights that currently connect the United States and the Communist-ruled island.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is to grant licenses for direct commercial flights to Cuba in the coming months, with scheduled air service between the two countries to begin in the fall.
The U.S. government says Cuban flagship airline Cubana de Aviacion will be excluded from providing service to the United States unless it obtains authorization from the U.S. Treasury Department.
The airlines seeking flights to Cuba are: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines.