U.S., Cuba reach understanding on restoring commercial flights

HAVANA -- The United States and Cuba have reached an understanding on restoring regularly scheduled commercial flights, Cuban and American officials said Wednesday on the eve of the anniversary of detente between the Cold War foes.

See Full Article

The diplomatic advance helps open the way for U.S. airlines to begin flying to Cuba within months in what would be the biggest business deal struck as the two countries try to normalize relations. Officials on both sides described it as an understanding on aviation but not yet a formal agreement and they hoped to reach a formal deal within hours or days.

Teams who have been meeting since Monday in Washington "have made important advances in negotiating a memorandum of understanding on establishing regular flights between Cuba and the United States, and shortly they will be ready to announce a preliminary agreement on this issue," said Josefina Vidal, head of North American affairs for Cuba's foreign ministry.

Right now, American and Cuban travellers must fly on charter flights that are complicated to book, rarely involve an online portal and often force prospective travellers to email documents and payment information back and forth with an agent. Those flying sometimes must arrive at the airport four hours in advance and strict baggage limits apply.

U.S. officials and aviation executives have speculated that Cuba could allow more than a dozen flights from the U.S. a day. It's unclear if those flights would completely replace charters, but they appear certain to create a surge in travel that would place heavy strain on Cuba's already overstrained tourist infrastructure. Hotels and private hostals are booked for months.

Authorized American travel to the island is up 50 per cent this year, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, who heads the U.S. Embassy in Havana, said Tuesday. While the majority of U.S. travellers are Cuban-Americans, there has been a sharp rise in Americans travelling for specially authorized purposes, particularly on educational tours known as people-to-people travel. Among Obama's regulatory changes this year was one permitting such travel to Cuba without specific Treasury Department permission.

Since the announcement last year that the U.S. would establish diplomatic relations and expand trade and tourism with Cuba, major U.S. airlines, including American, Delta, United, JetBlue and Southwest, have expressed interest in establishing regular flights from the U.S. to the island.

Cuba and the U.S. announced last week direct mail service would restart after a 52-year interruption. The governments had been speaking about restoring a postal link since Obama entered office, but those talks stalled when Cuba imprisoned U.S. contractor Alan Gross. He was freed in a prisoner exchange that sparked last year's declaration of detente.

On other issues, however, the U.S. and Cuba remain far apart. These include the billions of dollars in competing property claims, the status of fugitives in both countries, and Cuban protection of human rights.

The U.S. and Cuba re-opened embassies in each other's capitals this summer.

Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of the announcement by Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro that they were ending a half-century of U.S.-Cuban enmity.



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Media mogul Rupert Murdoch says Facebook should pay for news

    Economic CBC News
    Media mogul Rupert Murdoch says Facebook should pay fees to "trusted" news producers for their content. Facebook said last week that it will boost news sources that its users rank as most trustworthy , while shrinking the percentage of news posts overall in users' news feeds. Source
  • Quebec judge refuses to end trial for former Amaya CEO and others

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- A Quebec judge has refused to stay insider trading charges against former Amaya CEO David Baazov and other accused. Provincial court Judge Salvatore Mascia rejected defence motions to end the case because of the length of time it has taken to reach the trial stage and late filing of prosecution documents. Source
  • Corporate Canada urged to up its game in promoting NAFTA with Americans

    Economic CTV News
    OTTAWA -- For all of Canada's efforts to promote the North American Free Trade Agreement on U.S. soil, there are concerns one important voice from the north has been a little quieter than the rest: Canadian business. Source
  • Sears employees, pensioners alarmed by insolvency fees, lawyers say

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- Sears Canada pensioners, former and current employees say the nearly $52.9 million in professional fees paid by the shuttered retailer during the insolvency process is alarming and concerning, their lawyers told an Ontario court today, noting they reserve the right to challenge them at a later date. Source
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook discusses Malala Fund in exclusive interview

    Economic CTV News
    In a Canadian first, Apple CEO Tim Cook sits down with CTV’s Your Morning for an exclusive interview to discuss his company’s new partnership with Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. The interview is slated to air on Tuesday morning. Source
  • Ontario landlords call for right to immediately ban pot in rentals despite tenant laws

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- Ontario landlords want the right to immediately ban the use of pot in rental properties when recreational weed is legalized this summer, arguing they should be allowed to change tenants' existing leases to stop the drug from being consumed in their units. Source
  • Rogers Media cuts ties with Vice Canada, pulls Viceland channel off the air

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - Rogers Media and Vice Canada have announced the end of their three-year-old partnership, with TV channel Viceland slated to cease broadcasting on Rogers cable as of March 31 and Rogers giving up its interest in Vice StuRogers Media cuts ties with Vice Canada, pulls Viceland channel off the airdio Canada. Source
  • U.S. government shutdown no threat to credit rating: Moody's

    Economic CBC News
    The U.S. government shutdown that began on Saturday is disruptive to the economy, but poses no immediate threat to its top notch Aaa rating as long as it makes its debt payments on time, Moody's Investors Service said on Monday. Source
  • Why do you need a pet insurance, right here, right now

    Economic 24news
    Many Canadians would consider their pets as a part of their immediate, granular, family. Although some professionals think it’s not healthy, that’s the way life is in the twenty first century; There is a steep decline in the birth rate globally, with Japan leading the pack, and pets are filling in the void.
  • BMO and China's biggest bank ICBC boost partnership for market access

    Economic CBC News
    The Bank of Montreal has signed a new memorandum of understanding with China's largest state-owned bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. (ICBC), in an effort to expand its footprint in the world's second largest economy. Source