By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden administration will expand U.S. flights to Havana, adding 13 weekly American Airlines departures from Miami and a weekly JetBlue departure from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the Transportation Department said on Monday.
That is on top of the typical six daily American Airlines flights and three JetBlue flights weekdays to Havana from the Florida airports.
USDOT said the flights must begin by mid-December. In June, the department lifted a series of restrictions on flights to Cuba, including ending a prohibition on U.S. airline flights to smaller Cuban airports outside Havana.
At the time Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the action was “in support of the Cuban people, and in the foreign policy interests of the United States.”
The previous administration under President Donald Trump barred passenger airline flights to smaller Cuban airports.
In July, American Airlines received permission to resume service to some smaller Cuban airports. American sought approval for flights from Miami to Santa Clara, Holguin, Matanzas/Varadero and Santiago de Cuba.
The airline said earlier this year the flights “will enhance service and access between the U.S. and these non-Havana points, after more than two years during which such service was suspended.”
During the Trump administration, the United States imposed a cap on charter flights to Cuba at 3,600 per year and later suspended private charter flights to the country. It also barred charter flights to any Cuban airports except Havana.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler and Howard Goller)