Cuba-US Agree on Direct Scheduled Flights

The Memorandum of Understanding between the Governments of the two countries signed in Havana

By: Juana Carrasco

Email: digital@juventudrebelde.cu

2016-02-17 | 15:35:01 EST
Cuba-US Agree on Direct Scheduled FlightsCuba-US Agree on Direct Scheduled Flights Photo: Roberto RuizZoom
An important step in the establishment of regular commercial flights between the United States and Cuba took place in Havana with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on international air transport between the governments of both countries.

After an intense process of bilateral technical talks, started in March last year, the adoption of this document will allow for up to 20 daily flights between US airports and Havana, and even ten flights daily to and from each of the nine international airports in Cuba (Camagüey, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara, Holguin, Manzanillo, Santiago de Cuba, Cayo Coco and Cayo Largo).

On Tuesday morning, in the Vedado hall of the emblematic Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Cuban Transport Minister, Adel Yzquierdo Rodriguez and US Transportation Secretary Anthony R. Foxx and the President of the Institute of Civil Aeronautics of Cuba, Alfredo Pablo Cordero Puig, and Assistant secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Department of State, Charles H. Rivkin signed the commitment.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Cuba aims to apply on the basis of mutual respect and reciprocity, provisions for international air transportation between the two countries, and expands the possibilities that were limited to charter flights, which are maintained.

In his remarks after signing, the secretary Foxx said it was a historic day in Cuba-US relations, as announced by President Barack Obama in December 2014, to establish the route and service for the first time in more five decades and testified to the desire to strengthen ties.

He added that at the same time in Washington the order was made known to open within 15 days for US airlines to submit their route applications to offer this service shortly to families and other authorized persons.

Rivkin expressed, on behalf of Secretary of State John Kerry, the pleasure at seeing the progress on the road they have travelled and he quoted his words in Havana during the ceremony of hoisting the American flag at the embassy, saying they should focus on opportunities and on the future. This decision to resume air services, considered Rivkin, facilitates the exchange between citizens of Cuba and US

Both US officials noted that since the restoration of diplomatic relations the number of citizens of their country traveling to the island has increased.

For his part, Minister Adel Yzquierdo also stressed the importance of establishing regular flights between two countries that are signatories to the Convention on International Civil Aviation and reiterate the willingness to act accordingly in aviation security, "in principles regarding the recognition of the sovereignty of States over their airspace, the right to equal opportunities and common rights between the Parties, as well as the peaceful use of civil aviation."

To "the enforcement of this instrument -said the Cuban minister of Transport- airlines from both countries will also set up commercial partnerships, such as code sharing and aircraft leases between them or with third-country airlines."

The initialling of the Memorandum of Understanding begins a new era in air transport relations between Cuba and the United States, "which will contribute to the advancement of ties between our countries, concluded Minister Adel Yzquierdo.

With this agreement better facilities for the 12 categories of US travellers to Cuba that his country authorizes open, although the blockade laws maintain the ban on tourist travel, which can only be lifted by the US Congress

When signing the Memorandum in Havana, in Washington the US Department of Homeland Security announced the removal of the legal barriers that weigh on flights to Cuba, which could previously only come or go from 22 US airports, but are now subject to the same rules as any other international flight, as reported by EFE.

"We are executing the vision of President Barack Obama in our relationship with Cuba," Undersecretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, said in a note, added the news agency, which quoted the official as saying: "By deleting an obsolete regulation, we are eliminating a barrier for authorized travel and benefiting the people of our two nations."

Translated by ESTI

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