By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - Six domestic airlines have been cleared to begin direct scheduled flights from U.S. airports to Cuba, the Transportation Department announced Friday.
Starting this fall, American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines and Sun Country will be able to schedule flights to Cuba from five U.S. airports -- Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis/St. Paul and Cuba.
They will fly into nine Cuban cities including Camagüey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguín, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara, and Santiago de Cuba.
There will be 90 round-trip flights between the cities when the agreement goes into effect.
A separate decision on who will operate up to 20 daily flights to Havana will be announced later this summer. U.S. carriers have requested almost 60 daily flights to the Cuban capital, the department said.
“Last year, President [Barack] Obama announced that it was time to ‘begin a new journey’ with the Cuban people,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.
“Today, we are delivering on his promise by re-launching scheduled air service to Cuba after more than half a century.”
The U.S. agreed to re-establish scheduled air service between the two countries in February. Previous flights to the communist island were conducted on a charter basis.