Despite the opportunity to do so under a new air services agreement between the U.S. and Cuba, no U.S. all-cargo airline applied for authority to serve the island's capital of Havana, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Transportation said yesterday.
Under the agreement, which was signed in mid-February, the U.S. DOT could allocate up to 20 daily scheduled round-trip passenger and all-cargo flights between various U.S. airports and Havana. Yesterday, DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the agency had tentatively awarded rights to eight U.S. airlines operating out of 10 U.S. airports. DOT said that, in all, 12 U.S. carriers had applied for nearly 60 daily scheduled flights to Havana, far more than even the maximum daily flight allocations.
The air services agreement puts no restrictions on the number of charter flights between the two nations. Charters have historically hauled a large amount of airfreight between the U.S. mainland and the Americas.
The airlines that were tentatively chosen comprise the vast majority of the U.S. airline industry. The 10 cities were selected primarily based on the size of their Cuban-American populations as well as their significance as U.S. aviation hub cities, DOT said. The carriers tentatively chosen generate the lion's share of their revenue from passenger services, but make cargo space available in the aircraft lower holds, known in the industry as bellies.
For each of the other nine airports in Cuba, DOT could allocate up to 10 daily passenger and cargo flights to and from the U.S., according to the bilateral accord.