Transport in Cuba
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Cuba and U.S. agree to resume commercial flights

Cuba and U.S. agree to resume commercial flights
By Rene Marsh and Tom LoBianco, CNN
Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT) December 17, 2015

Washington (CNN)The United States and Cuba have reached an agreement to
resume commercial air travel between the two countries for the first
time in more than half a century, the State Department announced Thursday.

“This arrangement will continue to allow charter operations and
establish scheduled air service, which will facilitate an increase in
authorized travel, enhance traveler choices and promote people-to-people
links between the two countries,” according to the announcement.

U.S. law still bars travel to Cuba for tourism.

The deal was finalized last night. The official could not say when
flights would actually resume, because there are other steps the Federal
Aviation Administration needs to take to ensure certain safety
regulations are in place.

Members of the airline industry praised the decision.

“Interest in Cuba has reached levels not seen for a generation,” said
Scott Laurence, senior vice president airline planning, JetBlue. “We
will review the terms of the agreement to understand how JetBlue can
expand from charter service to regularly scheduled service. Our years of
experience in Cuba and unmatched customer experience positions JetBlue
as the carrier of choice for travel to Cuba.”

And following today’s announcement, American Airlines plans to submit a
U.S.-Cuba service proposal to the U.S. Department of Transportation with
the hope of introducing scheduled service soon in 2016.

The renewal of air travel is the latest step in the thawing relationship
between the two countries which persisted even after the Cold War ended.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parilla traveled to Washington in
July to re-open Cuba’s U.S. embassy, and Secretary of State John Kerry
flew to Cuba a month later to re-open the U.S. embassy there for the
first time since 1961.

“When the United States shuttered our embassy in 1961, I don’t think
anyone thought it would be more than half a century before it reopened,”
Obama said in a July Rose Garden statement.

And in April, Obama met for an hour with his Cuban counterpart Raul
Castro, the first time the two nations’ top leaders have sat down for
substantive talks in more than 50 years.

But not all Cold War vestiges have been cast off — the embargo remains
in place with support from Republican lawmakers who have railed against
President Barack Obama’s efforts to renew relations with Cuba.

Source: Cuba and U.S. agree to resume commercial flights –
CNNPolitics.com –
edition.cnn.com/2015/12/17/politics/cuba-us-commercial-flights/index.html

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