Soon the challenges of visiting Cuba will only be a memory for American travelers.
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced a proposal Thursday for Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and United Airlines to fly routes to Havana, Cuba, beginning as early as the fall.
“Today we take another important step toward delivering on President Obama’s promise to reengage Cuba,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “Restoring regular air service holds tremendous potential to reunite Cuban American families and foster education and opportunities for American businesses of all sizes.”
The routes are from Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, Orlando, and Tampa, and are in addition to previously approved flights to other Cuban airports.
The Department of Transportation is taking comment on the proposal through July, and will announce a final decision later this summer.
The thawing relationship between the U.S. and Cuba included an agreement to allow 20 daily flights between Havana and the U.S. Collectively, U.S. airlines applied for 60 flights, showing a strong interest in serving the island.
While traveling to Cuba for pure tourism is still not allowed, the 12 permitted reasons for travel — including cultural exchanges and educational trips — are loose enough that nearly anyone who wants to go now can.
American and JetBlue are just two of the airlines that have already been flying to Cuba in partnership with charter services, however the U.S. government approval of scheduled service is another sign that flying to the island nation will soon be no different than flying anywhere else.