Chicago among cities approved for direct flights to Cuba

WASHINGTON (WLS) -- The Department of Transportation officially approved several airlines and cities, including Chicago, to begin providing direct commercial flights to Cuba in 2016.

The department approved six domestic airlines to provide the flights: American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines and Sun Country Airlines.

Those carriers will operate their flights from Chicago, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Philadelphia, and to the Cuban cities of Camaguey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguin, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara and Santiago de Cuba.

The agreement does not allow flights to operate in and out of Havana. According to the Department of Transportation, U.S. carriers have collectively requested nearly 60 flights per day to Havana which requires a second selection process. They will announce a decision on Havana routes later this summer.

Under the arrangement, each country can operate up to 10 daily round-trip flights between the U.S. and Cuba, totaling 90 daily trips. In the long term the arrangement will provide for 20 daily round-trip flights.

Direct flights are expected to begin later in 2016.
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