HAVANA, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) — Cuba confirmed on Thursday that direct commercial flights with the United States would resume on Aug. 31 after more than 50 years of interruption, following thawing ties between the two former Cold War enemies.
“The start of regular commercial flights from the United States is a positive step and a major contribution to better relations between the two countries,” Eduardo Rodriguez, Cuba’s deputy minister of transportation, said at a press conference.
According to official media outlets, Rodriguez said JetBlue Airways, a low-cost U.S. airline, will fly the first of the commercial flights from Miami to the central city of Santa Clara on Aug. 31.
JetBlue will fly three times a week to this destination until Oct. 29 before switching to a daily flight.
Other carriers like American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines and Sun Country Airlines will begin their flights in September and beyond to other major cities.
Cuban and the United States agreed in February to reestablish commercial flights, including 20 daily round-trip flights to Havana, which are awaiting final approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“The delay on the approval of direct commercial flights to Havana is that airlines applied for three times as many daily flights as the agreement allows,” Rodriguez said.
The Cuban official added that U.S. citizens still cannot freely travel to the island and that those who come on these direct commercial flights must qualify for one of 12 categories for people-to-people travel.