Cuba and U.S. To Resume Commercial Flights

| by Kathryn Schroeder

Commercial air travel will resume between the United States and Cuba after more than half a century, the U.S. State Department announced Dec. 17.

"This arrangement will continue to allow charter operations and establish scheduled air service, which will facilitate an increase in authorized travel, enhance traveler choices and promote people-to-people links between the two countries," the State Department’s announcement said, according to CNN.

It is unknown when flights will officially resume because the Federal Aviation Administration must ensure certain safety regulations are in place first.

Travel to Cuba strictly for the purpose of tourism is still banned by U.S. law.

There are certain purposes in which an American citizen may visit Cuba without having to apply for permission, in the form of a license, from the government, according to The New York Times. They include visits to close relatives, academic programs for which students receive credits, professional research, journalistic or religious activities, and participation in sports competitions or public performances.

An estimated 400,000 Cubans and Cuban-Americans, as well as 100,000 non-Cuban Americans, visited the country from the U.S. in 2014.

Resuming commercial air travel between the U.S. and Cuba is a further step in reestablishing a relationship between the two countries since the full embargo was enforced in 1962.

In July, Cuba’s embassy in Washington, D.C., was reopened, and Secretary of State John Kerry reopened the U.S. embassy on the island nation in August.

"When the United States shuttered our embassy in 1961, I don't think anyone thought it would be more than half a century before it reopened," President Barack Obama said in a July Rose Garden statement.

Sources: The New York Times, CNN / Photo Source: Mike Fleming/Flickr