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Cuba to sign agreement today with US to resume direct flights

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A memorandum of understanding between Cuba and the United States is expected to be signed today.  At present five major US airlines (United, Delta, American, Southwest and JetBlue) are interested in providing direct flights to Cuba.  Discussions on flights to Cuba did not achieve a signed agreement last year. Currently international airlines such as Air France, Air Transat, Sunwing, West Jet and Air Canada already have agreements with the Cuban government and operate regular flights to Cuban airports.

HAVANA – The Cuban government confirmed Saturday that it will sign a memorandum of understanding with the United States on February 16 to formally re-establish direct flights.

“On Tuesday, February 16, the signing ceremony will take place in the National Hotel of Cuba,” said a press release by the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

After the agreement is signed, airlines will have 15 days to submit their proposals to the US Department of Transportation for routes.

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At least five major American airlines, United, Delta, American, Southwest and JetBlue, have shown an interest in establishing formal links to the island.

While the eventual number of flights and routes will depend on the demand, the agreement to be signed will establish a potential for over 100 daily flights to Cuba, 20 to Havana, and 10 each for nine other airports, including Santiago de Cuba, Matanzas, Camagyey, Manzanillo and Santa Clara.

Furthermore, airlines from both sides will be able to sign commercial agreement, such as shared flight codes and leasing of planes.

However, Thomas Engle, assistant secretary of state in Washington, said on Saturday that this agreement will now allow flights of Cuban passengers to the United States.

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Update:  The aviation agreement between the U.S. and Cuba was signed on February 16, opening the possibility of 110 US flights to Cuban airports.  US aviation companies have 15 days to submit their bids to the US Department of Transport.

Source:  ChinaDaily.com

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