US approves flights to Cuba for 6 airlines

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6 U.S. airlines get approval for scheduled flights to Cuba

The United States approved flights to Cuban cities other than Havana for six airlines Friday, in a continuing détente between the two countries. Until now, flights to Cuba from the U.S. had been limited to charter services.

American Airlines will offer nonstop service from Miami, home to the largest Cuban community in the United States.

Southwest Airlines, JetBlue and Silver Airways will fly to Cuba from nearby Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Frontier will start offering flights from Chicago and Philadelphia. And for the traveler who wants to fly to Cuba from Minneapolis, Sun Country Airlines will offer flights.

"For avid travelers – that means 155 weekly trips," Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said. "It is an exciting time in American history as we continue to make inroads toward safe, scheduled passenger and cargo flights to Cuba.

According to the Department of Transportation, the nine Cuban cities that will receive service are: Camagüey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguín, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara, and Santiago de Cuba. The department says it needs more time to work out logistics for flights to Havana, the nation's capital.

"Collectively, U.S. carriers have requested nearly 60 flights per day to Havana, thus requiring Transportation officials to select from among the proposals. A decision on the Havana routes will be announced later this summer," Secretary of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement announcing the new routes.

"Last year, President Obama announced that it was time to 'begin a new journey' with the Cuban people," Foxx said. "Today, we are delivering on his promise by relaunching scheduled air service to Cuba after more than half a century."

RELATED: Cubans hope for change after Obama's visit

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Ordinary Cubans hope for change after Obama's visit
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US approves flights to Cuba for 6 airlines
Yoendry Gainsa, 35, a bricklayer, holds his daughter while posing for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 25, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Gainsa said "I hope everything gets better and that there will be better work and development for our children. Long live Obama." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 25, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Carlos Alvarez, 54, poses with his pet parrot for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 25, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Alvarez said "New changes, it was a blessing that he came and God willing the new U.S. president will do the same. Obama is an example." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 25, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Jimmy Blanco, 9, holds a corncob while posing for a photograph in front of the Cuban and the U.S. flags in Havana, March 23, 2016. Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Paloma Duarte, 18, a dancer, poses for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 23, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Duarte said "Developed the communication between us. We have family here and there (in the U.S.) and an urgent need to be able to go." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 23, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Zamora, 55, self-employed, poses for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags after buying a pineapple in Havana, March 25, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Zamora said "It's good for the Cubans that he came and re-established relationships between the two countries." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 25, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Jurangel, 25, a dancer, poses for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 25, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Jurangel said "Spectacular." Picture taken March 25, 2016. Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Lazaro Roger, 56, poses for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 23, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Roger said "This is grand, historical and very positive that the USA have realized after all these years that the embargo is not worth it." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 23, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Raciel Cardoso, 30, a musician, poses for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 23, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Cardoso said "This is very good, the perfect union between two countries, and that everything changes now for the better." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 23, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Manuel, 52, a bricklayer, poses for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 25, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Manuel said "I hope with this visit there will be a little more survival." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 25, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Concha gestures while posing for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 25, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Concha said "A life struggle." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 25, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Eric, 3, gestures while posing for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 25, 2016. Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 25, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Pascual Montero, 86, who collects plastic containers from restaurants and resells them, smokes a cigar while posing in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 25, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Montero said, "It was perfect and I have hopes that some day a lot of problems can be resolved." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 25, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Guillermo Manzano, 54, a welder, eats cake while posing for a photograph in front of Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 23, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Manzano said, "The best, the greatest thing that has entered this country." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 23, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Yaneisy, 28, between jobs, poses for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 25, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Yaneisy said, "I don't care." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 25, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Sarah Maria, 50, a transvestite, poses for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 23, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Maria said "I believe this could be very important for my country." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 23, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Irma Diaz, 55, a housewife, poses for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 25, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Diaz said "I am happy with the friendship between Raul (Castro) and Obama." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 25 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
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President Barack Obama began normalizing relations with the officially communist Cuba at the end of 2014. At the time, those considerd to be the Republican presidential front-runners such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., heavily condemned the move. Republican candidates not from Florida, such as Scott Walker, were critical as well.

"Cuba is a dictatorship with a disastrous human rights record, and now President Obama has rewarded those dictators. We should instead be fostering efforts that will truly lead to the fair, legitimate democracy that will ultimately prevail in Cuba," Bush said.

But the issue has receded from the forefront of national debate and has not become a major issue in the 2016 campaign.

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump has said he is "fine" with the new U.S.-Cuban relationship. Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, in a rare area of agreement, also supports the move.

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