DOT Tentatively Grants 8 Airlines Rights To Fly To Havana — Here Are The Routes

Filed Under: American, Delta

Early last year sanctions began to be lifted between the US and Cuba, following the embargo that was in place for decades. This was huge news for those looking to travel to Cuba, since it created more circumstances under which US tourists could visit (and those travel restrictions have been eased even further since then).

What is far from instant, however, is actually restoring commercial flights between the two countries. Air treaties between countries are complicated matters even under normal circumstances, let alone a situation like this, where they’re making up for decades of non-diplomacy.

As I wrote about in February, the US and Cuba signed an agreement to restore commercial service between the two countries. Under this agreement, US airlines could start bidding on routes between the US and Cuba, for up to 110 flights per day.

Only 20 of those daily frequencies could be commercial flights to Havana, though, while the other frequencies would have to be to other cities in Cuba (where there’s presumably a lot less demand). US airlines had a 15 day window where they could request flights to Cuba, so at the end of that we learned of all the flights US carriers wanted to operate to Cuba, which far exceeded the number of available frequencies.

Several weeks ago six US airlines were granted the right to operate flights to Cuban cities other than Havana. Basically all the airlines that requested flights to fly to Cuban cities other than Havana were approved, since the available slots weren’t contested.

Meanwhile there was a lot of competition for flights to Havana, meaning the DOT had to go through a selection process for those flights.

Well, that process is now complete, and the Department of Transportation has tentatively awarded eight US airlines the right to operate certain routes to Havana. Per the DOT’s press release, these routes include the following:



It’s worth noting that these are just tentative decisions, and can still be modified:

DOT has only issued a tentative decision, and airlines will not be authorized to sell tickets or operate scheduled flights until a final decision is reached sometime later this summer. The airlines have proposed varying startup dates for their services, but most are planned for fall and winter 2016/2017. DOT’s decision contains requirements that, if made final, will require that the carriers begin their services within 90 days of the issue date of a final order.

So it’ll likely be several more weeks until these flights are finalized, and then several more weeks after that before the flights are actually launched.

What do you make of the city pairs that the DOT granted for Cuba flights?

  1. Weird no flights from DFW on AA or any flights from ORD on any airline. The Alaska flight is an oddball too. Would have expected more flights from ATL on DL as well.

  2. Good to see American only going 4X daily instead of 16? Looking forward to a flight from Chicago.

  3. Looking at the routes another by frequency and city, noted that NYC (incl EWR) gets 3 per day and MIA/FLL get 12 per day (except Saturday, which is 11). Probably not much demand originating in CLT, although would be big for connections on legacy US.

    1/week from IAH (UA)
    1/day from LAX (AS)
    1/day from CLT (AA)
    1/day from ATL (DL)
    1/day from TPA (WN)
    1/day from MCO (B6)
    1/day from EWR (UA)
    2/day from JFK (DL, B6)
    6/day from FLL (B6x2, NKx2, WNx2)
    6/day from MIA (AAx4, DL, F9)

  4. Do we have any idea which terminal at HAV the scheduled flights will use? The charter terminal (perhaps the worst International terminal I’ve ever used) or the international terminal that Aeromexico/Copa/etc use?

  5. It looks like United, amongst the big carriers, really lost out. Only one daily flight and one weekly rotation.

    Is that what they requested, or did someone crap on United?

  6. Kevin, United only requested daily from Newark. They requested weekly from Chicago, Dulles, and Houston. So they got most of what they wanted.

  7. “Only 20 of those daily frequencies could be commercial flights to Havana, though, while the other frequencies would have to be to other cities in Cuba (where there’s presumably a lot less demand).”

    I find it fascinating that Americans are so focused on Havana. Havana is not the primary vacation destination that you all appear to think it is. Veradero, Cayo Coco and Holguín have long been the primary resort towns visited by Canadians & Europeans. If anything, I’m shocked to hear that the airlines weren’t clamoring to grab those routes…

  8. I would have expected AA to also get LAX to add some competition in that market. It seems that competition was well established in Florida.
    I also don’t see where the airlines think they will have the volume to support these flights. Officially, tourism and most business is still not allowed. Just cultural / family and some business visits right now?

  9. @Navin: have to agree, it would have been nice to have a direct…connection it is I suppose.

  10. @ dmodemd

    “Officially, tourism and most business is still not allowed”

    One of the allowed reasons is: “support for the Cuban people”. wink wink…

    That’s a big enough loophole to drive an 18 wheeler thru without even slowing down.

    Besides, who is being tasked with enforcing this? I’m guessing no one. 😉

  11. Don’t understand a few of these – JetBlue should have gotten TPA based on their charter service, and I’m not sure why they get one fewer FLL on Saturday (unless they requested it and I missed that.). And I don’t understand the Frontier service from MIA, they’re a small player in MIA. Also a little surprised that 3 different NYC-MIA routes got the nod.

    It was nice to see the Feds not bend over backward to satisfy WN, though…I expected Southwest to get more.

    Not sure the AS service from LAX will work, but points to them for trying, I guess.

  12. Lucky what’s the chances I can purchase a ticket and get a flight to Havana from Fla. or Houston by late October or mid November. This Paul

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