The wait is over for airlines (and passengers) waiting to see which airlines will be allowed to fly to Havana from which cities.
A dozen airlines had applied for almost 60 flights per day, far beyond the 20 agreed to between the U.S. and Cuba—and far more than could find enough passengers, given travel restrictions still in place.
The winners are 8 airlines, and the 10 cities they will fly from, 4 of them in Florida and 2 in the New York area. In addition to the Big Three airlines, flights were awarded to Alaska, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest and Spirit.
The route awards will become final in 2 weeks unless there are objections, and airlines will be required to begin service within 90 days after that. It's likely that the airlines will take a while to make the routes profitable, as U.S. travelers are still not allowed to make tourist visits to Cuba, although the 12 categories of permitted travel are fairly broad, and travel has been increasing rapidly.
Flights for other Cuban cities were awarded weeks ago, but Havana was delayed while the Department of Transportation figured out how to share them. According to DOT, the decision was made on two main factors: Serving areas with "substantial Cuban-American population" as well as providing service to important aviation hub cities. DOT also chose a mix of network, low-cost and ultra-low-cost carriers.
The airlines and routes are:
- American Airlines: 4 daily flights from Miami and 1 from Charlotte
- Delta: 1 flight each from Atlanta, Miami and JFK
- United: 1 daily flight from Newark; 1 flight a week from Houston (Saturday)
- JetBlue: 2 daily flights from Fort Lauderdale (but only one on Saturday); 1 daily from JFK and 1 from Orlando
- Alaska Airlines: 1 flight a day from Los Angeles (the only West Coast flight)
- Southwest: 1 flight a day from Tampa and 2 from Fort Lauderdale
- Spirit: 2 daily trips from Fort Lauderdale
- Frontier: 1 daily from Miami
Taken together, 14 of the routes went to Florida, with only 2 flights from west of the Mississippi. Among airlines, the Big Three got 9, the next tier (Alaska, Southwest and JetBlue) got 8, leaving 3 for the ULCCs.
The Secretary's announcement can be seen HERE
Photo inside Havana's Jose Marti airport by HappyPepe/Wikimedia