US Moves Closer to Launching Havana Schedules

Effects of US Embargo Continue To Stress Cuban Economy

US Moves Closer to Launching Havana Schedules

The successful airlines were: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, Frontier, Jet Blue, Southwest, Spirit Airlines and United.

United Airlines lobbied unsuccessfully for a direct route to Havana from Washington D.C., which would facilitate the travel of congress members, politicians and diplomats.

Alaska Airlines has tentatively chosen to provide air service between the US and Havana, Washington congressional delegation members announced.

Visiting Cuba strictly for tourism is not now allowed.

Cuba also says its economy is hurt by the USA embargo on the island, despite a diplomatic thaw between Havana and Washington in the previous year and a half and measures by the Obama administration to ease some of its restrictions. But the administration has eased rules to the point where travelers are now free to design their own "people-to-people" cultural exchange tours with little oversight.

On July 7 the US Department of Transport (DOT) moved closer to delivering on President Obama's promise to re-engage with Cuba by restoring scheduled air services to the nation's capital and largest city.

Houston's Cuban-American population estimated at 20,000.

Cuba's parliament convened Friday for one of its twice-annual plenary sessions amid warnings from government officials that the country needs to cut energy use and as many islanders hoped for deepened economic reforms. The figures do not include the hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans who travel to the island each year on family visits. The government's decision, if made final, would require that the airlines begin service within 90 days of the issue date of a final order.

USA citizens' interest in visiting Cuba has swelled since relations between the two nations started to thaw in December 2014.

USA and Cuban authorities agreed in February to restore flights between the two countries for the first time in 50 years.

Last month, the DOT already permitted flights from the United States to nine other Cuban cities but put off the authorization of Havana flights because of the airlines' competition.

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