The federal government gave approval Friday for the resumption of scheduled airline service with Cuba that had been suspended during the Cold War more than 50 years ago.
Six airlines were given permission for flights from five U.S. airports — none in the New York area — to nine Cuban airports, but not Havana, the capital and the island nation’s largest city.
The U.S. Department of Transportation, which announced the approval, said a decision would be made later this year on 13 applications for scheduled flights between Havana and several U.S. airports, including Kennedy Airport in Queens and Newark Liberty in New Jersey. All the flights are expected to begin in the fall.
The DOT action, which still requires Cuban approval, stems from President Barack Obama’s trip to the island nation earlier this year and his attempt to normalize relations.
The approval allows for a total of 90 daily round trips, and 20 more are expected if the Havana routes are approved.
There are currently several charter flights daily between the U.S. and Cuba, including JetBlue, which charters twice weekly from its terminal at Kennedy Airport.
The approvals granted Friday were to American, Frontier, JetBlue, Silver Airways, Southwest and Sun Country. They will operate from Miami, Chicago, Philadelphia, Minneapolis–St. Paul and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In Cuba, they will serve Camaguey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguin, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara and Santiago de Cuba.
Technically, tourist travel between the U.S. and Cuba is prohibited, but people can fly under several other categories — professional meetings, religious activities, family visits and so on — that skirt that rule.