The Cable

Flights From U.S. to Cuba Set to Resume But Tourism Is Still Prohibited

U.S. authorizes flights to Cuba, but don't plan on planning a vacation there yet.

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In early May, a cruise ship from the United States docked in Havana, Cuba, for the first time in nearly 40 years. Americans will soon be able to travel there through the friendly skies, but don’t book your Cuban vacation just yet, and don’t plan on flying to Havana.  

On Friday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines, and Sun Country Airlines would be allowed to operate up to 10 daily round-trip flights to the nine eligible airports in Cuba.

Beginning as early as this fall, the carriers can start to schedule flights between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis/St. Paul and Cuba. These flights can travel to the Cuban cities of Camagüey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguín, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara, and Santiago de Cuba. Air travel to the capital, Havana, is still up in the air; DOT said an announcement on travel there would be made later this summer. The change in policy is part of the continuing normalization of relations between Washington and Havana that began in December 2014.

However, in a fact sheet released along with the statement, the Department of Transportation made clear that travel to Cuba as a tourist is still strictly prohibited. Only those who fall under one of 12 federal categories, including religious work, journalism, family travel, and official government business, can make the journey south.  

“Last year, President Obama announced that it was time to ‘begin a new journey’ with the Cuban people,” 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.”

Photo credit: CHIP SOMODEVILLA/Getty Images

David Francis was a senior reporter for Foreign Policy, where he covered international finance. @davidcfrancis

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