DoT approves plan for possible air cargo service to Cuba
February 17, 2016
Today’s signing of a new US-Cuba air services pact opening up a scheduled services market closed since the 1960s was greeted with enthusiasm by both United and American Airlines.
Brandon Fried, Executive Director of the Airforwarders Association (AfA) also cheered the historic deal.
“The new air services agreement with Cuba will not only assist in reuniting Cuban Americans with their families but will begin exploring future air cargo opportunities as well,” he told LM in an interview. “As the doors between Cuba and the United States reopen, trade between our two nations will undoubtedly increase, creating an increased demand for air cargo and freight forwarders.”
American’s chairman and chief executive Doug Parker shared similar insights with his stakeholders. American Airlines’ Latin America gateway hub at Miami International Airport (MIA) will be included in the company’s application for scheduled service to Cuba, added Parker.
At the same time, American is considering applying to serve Cuba from other hubs. In 2015, American operated approximately 1,200 charter flights to Cuba. This represents more than any other U.S. carrier and would be a major increase over the prior year.
American Airlines will submit Cuba service proposal to the Department of Transportation (DoT) in the coming weeks, as will United.
“Today’s agreement invites applications from U.S. carriers and initiates a proceeding for the DoT to select which U.S. carriers will be able to offer scheduled flights to Cuba, and from which U.S. points,” said DoT spokesmen. “In making its selection, the department will consider which proposals will offer and maintain the best service to the traveling and shipping public. The department recognises the eagerness of U.S. carriers to take advantage of these new Cuba opportunities, and intends to reach a final decision as expeditiously as possible.”
The new arrangement, signed today by Anthony Foxx in Cuba, provides each country with the opportunity to operate up to 20 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and Havana, the capital of Cuba. The arrangement also provides each country with the opportunity to operate up to 10 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and each of Cuba’s nine other international airports, providing U.S. carriers with the opportunity to operate up to a total of 110 daily roundtrip flights.
The arrangement does not limit charter services, meaning that no DoT allocation procedures are needed and charter flights can continue as before.
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