US and Cuba to restore commercial air routes

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(London Post)   Commercial flights are set to be restored between Cold War foes the US and Cuba. Several airlines have expressed interest as US travel to the island nation has increased in the past year.

The United States and Cuba announced on Wednesday that they were in the final stretch of inking a deal on reestablishing commercial flights between their two nations. Speaking a day before the anniversary of the historical détente between the Cold War enemies, US and Cuban officials told the press that US airlines would likely be able to open routes to Cuba within months.

This would make the biggest step towards closer economic ties since the former foes announced they were reopening all diplomatic channels.

The teams working to secure the deal “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 of Cuba’s foreign ministry.

Cuba attracts American tourists

Until now, travelers have had to book expensive charter flights to and from the island nation. Now, passengers will be able to buy tickets directly from major airlines, which will prove a boost to both business and tourism in Cuba.

Airlines such as JetBlue, American Airlines, Delta, and United have already expressed interest in opening up Cuba routes after President Barack Obama announced the rolling back of travel restrictions over the past year.

As a result of easier travel, US citizens’ visits to Cuba have gone up 71 percent in the past year, despite general tourism still being banned due to the trade embargo , which the US Congress has yet to lift.

es/bw (AP, Reuters)

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