Agreement signed to resume Commercial flights between Cuba, US

The United States and Cuba have reached an agreement to resume commercial air travel between the two countries for the first time in more than half a century, the State Department announced Thursday.

“On December 16, the United States and Cuba reached a bilateral arrangement to establish scheduled air services between the two countries,” the release said.

The State Department says that while the deal facilitates scheduled flights, it will continue to allow charter operations between the United States and Cuba.

The deal was finalized last night although US law still bars travel to Cuba for tourism.

US citizens are allowed to travel to Cuba for 12 specific purposes that are listed in the Treasury Department’s Cuban Assets Control Regulations. They include journalistic, educational, religious, professional and humanitarian activities, in addition to family visits and “support for the Cuban people.”

American Airlines, United Air Lines, and JetBlue were among the members of the airline industry that issued statements immediately applauding the deal.

President Barack Obama relaxed travel restrictions to Cuba earlier this year. That has led to a boom in US citizens’ visits to Cuba, which are up 71 percent this year, with 138,120 Americans arriving over the first 11 months, reported CNN.

According to WTDC, operators of the Miami Foreign Trade Zone, as a result of discussions held in Miami on Thursday, December 10, the United States Postal Service and Cuba have also agreed upon a pilot program to send mail directly between the two countries several times per week instead of routing it through a third country.

Regular mail service and commercial flights between the United States and Cuba had been suspended since the 1960s.