Direct US flights to Cuba may open door to classic car culture
Transportation Department will soon establish more than 100 daily flights.
The Department of Transportation announced an agreement Tuesday with Cuban authorities that will send Americans south. Airlines may soon operate as many as 110 daily flights between the United States and Cuba, officials said. That includes as many as 20 daily nonstop between the U.S. and Havana.
"We're excited to announce the availability of new scheduled air service opportunities to Cuba for U.S. carriers, shippers and the traveling public," US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.
The agreement culminated after more than a year of discussions between the DOT and Cuban Civil Aviation Institute, a process than began after President Obama signaled intentions to re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba in 2014.
Beyond Havana, airlines will be permitted to fly up to 10 daily round-trip flights between the U.S. and nine other Cuban airports, per the agreement. The DOT is now accepting applications from US carriers for those slots, and will consider "which proposals will offer and maintain the best service to the traveling and shipping public."
Applications are due March 2, and the DOT says it will have decisions made by March 14.
Technically, general tourism is still not permitted to Cuba. But the DOT says travelers who fall into any of 12 categories can visit the island nation, which has already seen the number of American travelers jump 54 percent since Obama announced his intentions, says the DOT.
Those categories are: family visits; official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments or certain intergovernmental organizations; journalistic activity; professional research and meetings; educational activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions and exhibitions; support for the Cuban people, humanitarian projects, activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; exportation, importation or transmission of information or information materials; and certain authorized export transactions.
For anyone who's in the auto industry or interested in whetting their appetite for the legions of classic cars that dominate Cuban roads, there might be valid ways to fit within those parameters.
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