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You Can Soon Fly To Cuba From Chicago

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jun 10, 2016 4:30PM

Getty Images; Photo: Joe Raedle
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Friday that U.S. airlines will begin scheduled service to Cuba from five American cities, including Chicago. (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis/St. Paul are also included.) Flights will begin as early as this fall.

"Last year, President [Barack] Obama announced that it was time to 'begin a new journey' with the Cuban people," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a USDOT press release. "Today, we are delivering on his promise by re-launching scheduled air service to Cuba after more than half a century." The announcement follows an agreement signed in February between the Department of Transportation and the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs as a first step to toward re-launch air travel.

Flights will be scheduled to and from nine cities in Cuba: Camagüey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguín, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara and Santiago de Cuba. The carriers awarded service are American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines and Sun Country Airlines.

Here are more details from the DOT on the rules around the flights:

"Under the new arrangement, each country has the opportunity to operate up to 10 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and each of Cuba's nine international airports, other than Havana, for a total of 90 daily roundtrips. Longer term, the arrangement also provides for up to 20 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and Havana. Collectively, U.S. carriers have requested nearly 60 flights per day to Havana, thus requiring DOT to select from among the proposals. A decision on the Havana routes will be announced later this summer."

The statement marks the latest—and among the most significant—steps in the Cuban Thaw. The warming of relations stretches back to 2014, when Obama announced the start of normalization processes between the two nations, which have endured mutually hostile relations since the Cold War.