U.S. airlines submit to DOT for Cuba flights awarded this summer

NEW YORK — At least seven carriers submitted applications to the DOT Wednesday. Most are looking to serve Cuba primarily from their large hub cities, with Havana being the most popular destination.

The government will spend the next few months reviewing the requests and is expected to award the contested Havana routes this summer. Flights to smaller cities could be approved much sooner.

Once routes are awarded, airlines will still need time to develop schedules and actually sell seats on the flights. And while the U.S. government will set the routes, airlines will also need to apply to Cuba’s civil aviation authority for a permit to operate in the country.

United Airlines

United Airlines today submitted its formal application to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for authority to provide service from four of its largest U.S. gateway cities – Newark/New York, Houston,Washington, D.C. and Chicago – to Havana’s José Martí International Airport.

“This is a historic moment for our company, our employees and, most importantly, our customers,” said Oscar Munoz, United’s president and chief executive officer. “We want to be the first choice for passengers traveling between the U.S. and Cuba. We’re able to offer customers the best access, convenience and connections to and from Havana through our industry-leading global route network, and we’re excited to compete for this important service.”

United’s proposal to DOT outlines its planned service to Havana from hubs serving four of the country’s largest Cuban-American populations. The service would include a total of 11 roundtrip flights per week with daily service from Newark Liberty and one additional Saturday flight (eight weekly flights), along with a Saturday-only flight from Houston George Bush Intercontinental, Washington Dulles and Chicago O’Hare (three weekly flights). If United’s application is approved, service to Havana on these routes will be operated with United Wi-Fi-equipped Boeing 737-800 two-cabin aircraft featuring 16 United First, 90 United Economy and 48 extra legroom United Economy Plus seats.

United launched to create awareness of the significant economic and competitive benefits the airline’s service would provide, as well as the consumer benefits it would bring to individual, business and government customers. The website also offers customers the opportunity to voice their support for United’s service to Cuba.

American Airlines

American Airlines has applied for permission to fly nonstop from Charlotte to Havana, in a landmark move as air carriers and the U.S. government look to re-establish ties with Cuba.

Media outlets report that American Airlines applied Wednesday to fly once a day year-round from Charlotte. The carrier also applied for 10 daily flights from Havana to Miami, as well as once daily from Dallas/Fort Worth and weekly from Los Angeles and Chicago.

American Airlines’ application says the proposed Charlotte-Havana flight would take about 2 1/2 hours and cover 847 miles. It would be on an Airbus A319, seating 144 passengers.

All flights now operating between the U.S. and Cuba are charters. The Department of Transportation will review the applications from American and other charters and decide which to grant.



Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines filed an application with the U.S. government to provide non-stop service to Cuba from four key cities in the United States. Delta seeks approval to serve Havana with daily flights from its hubs in Atlanta and New York’s JFK International Airport as well as from Miami and Orlando.

“This is a historic moment for Delta as we seek to provide unparalleled access between the U.S. and Cuba,” said Bob Cortelyou, Senior Vice President—Network & Schedule Planning. “Delta’s proposed service to Havana from New York, Atlanta, Miami andOrlando will provide customers with convenient travel options to the Cuban capitol.”

Delta would serve the flights from Atlanta and JFK with the Boeing 757-200, and Miami and Orlando with the Boeing 737-800.

“We look forward to providing access to the island from the U.S. and around the world,” said Nicolas Ferri, Delta’s Vice President forLatin America and the Caribbean. “If approved, these frequencies would increase the strength of our network, advancing Delta’s goal to be the best U.S. airline in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines filed an application today with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requesting governmental approval to serve Cuba with daily nonstop flights from the carrier’s three busiest airports in Florida: Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL); Tampa Bay International Airport (TPA); and OrlandoInternational Airport (MCO).  The carrier applied to serve Havana (HAV) from all three Florida cities and additionally to serve Varadero (VRA) and Santa Clara (SNU) from Ft. Lauderdale (Miami Area).

As part of the effort to bring low-fare competition and Customer-friendly travel options to Cuba, the carrier is asking Customers to take action and support Southwest’s Countdown to Cuba by visiting to sign a petition in support of Southwest’s proposed Cuba service.

“We’re ready to add Cuba to our route map and offer this emerging market Southwest’s low fares, bags fly free with no change fees*, and our legendary customer service,” said Gary Kelly, Chairman, President  & CEO of Southwest Airlines.  “We carry more Floridatravelers and more U.S. passengers every day than any other airline, and the service we’re proposing aims to bring maximum value to the greatest number of potential Customers for Cuba air service.”


Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines today filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation seeking approval to fly two daily nonstop flights from its Latin America gateway of Los Angeles to Havana, Cuba. The Los Angeles metro area has the largest Cuban-American population in the Western United States.

“Together with our 14 global partner airlines, Alaska Airlines offers more than 110 nonstop destinations from Los Angeles. As the largest West Coast-based airline, we’re well positioned to offer our customers convenient access to one of the Caribbean’s most popular destinations,” said John Kirby, Alaska Airlines vice president of capacity planning.