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

  • France pledges $30 million for wartime heritage protection

    Economic CTV News
    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- France committed $30 million toward protecting cultural heritage sites during wartime on Saturday, a first step in the creation of an international fund aimed at preventing destruction like that carried out by Islamic State militants. Source
  • The best and worst ways to budget for the holidays

    Economic CBC News
    Presents. Parties. Travel. The holidays can drain our energy, and our bank accounts — even if we try our best to prevent it. We checked in with some of Canada's top personal finance experts for their best budget tips, but also their biggest blunders, because even the smartest money-handlers know holiday pressure can lead to poor decisions. Source
  • Angry Air Miles collectors demand back points they rushed to use on 'junk'

    Economic CBC News
    On Thursday, Air Miles cancelled its controversial expiry policy. But the move is only fuelling the fury for many collectors who used their points on stuff they didn't really want to beat the clock. Source
  • Death threats and abuse for woman leading Brexit court fight

    Economic CTV News
    LONDON -- Gina Miller is paying the price for going to court. The financial entrepreneur says she has received death threats and racial and sexual abuse since she won a High Court ruling forcing the British government to seek Parliamentary approval before leaving the European Union. Source
  • Air Miles rep: 'Options' may exist for panic redeemers

    Economic CTV News
    Air Miles Canada may have thought abandoning its unpopular expiration policy would calm the cardholder backlash from those who rushed to spend miles, but were frustrated by full flights, sold out merchandise, and long customer service delays. Source
  • Irving mill faces steep fines after being charged with polluting St. John River

    Economic CTV News
    SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Irving Pulp and Paper is facing 15 counts of polluting the St. John River at its mill near the Reversing Falls tourist attraction. An Environment Canada spokesman says Irving has been charged under federal Fisheries Act provisions on the deposit of harmful substances into fish-bearing water. Source
  • Costco investigated over allegations pharmacy directors accepted kickbacks for certain brands

    Economic CBC News
    Costco is being investigated by Ontario's Ministry of Health for its compliance with the province's legislation on selling pharmaceutical and over-the-counter drugs. The health ministry investigation comes after the Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP) announced it would hold disciplinary hearings for two Costco pharmacy directors because of allegations that they accepted Source
  • Costco to be investigated by government over compliance with drug-selling rules

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- Costco is being investigated by Ontario's Ministry of Health for its compliance with the province's legislation on selling pharmaceutical and over-the-counter drugs. The health ministry investigation comes after the Ontario College of Pharmacists announced it would hold disciplinary hearings for two Costco pharmacy directors because of allegations that they accepted kickbacks for stocking certain brands. Source
  • United Airlines will pay US$2.4 million to settle with SEC

    Economic CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The parent company of United Airlines will pay US$2.4 million to settle civil charges by securities regulators over flights that were started to help an official who oversaw one of the airline's hub airports. Source
  • 4 of world's biggest cities have plans to get diesel off their streets

    Economic CBC News
    Four of the world's largest and most polluted cities have decided to ban diesel cars and trucks from their streets by 2025. The mayors of Paris, Mexico City, Madrid and Athens announced the commitment in Mexico City on Friday at the C40 Mayors' Summit, a meeting of city leaders. Source