United Airlines gets direct flight approval to Cuba

United Airlines customers will have a historic opportunity to board one of the first commercial flights to Havana, Cuba in more than a half century as the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) tentatively awarded the airline nonstop flights to the Cuban capital from its global gateways in New York/Newark and Houston.Cuba

United’s president and CEO Oscar Munoz said that, “These flights open the door to a new world of travel and opportunities for our customers,”

“We are proud of the important and historic role our airline will play in connecting the U.S. and Cuba, as commercial air travel takes flight between these countries for the first time in more than 50 years,” he said.

United expects to begin its first flight to Cuba from New York/Newark and Houston later this year, which would make it one of the first U.S. airlines to provide commercial service to Havana – and the first airline to offer U.S.-Havana service from outside Florida.

United’s daily nonstop flight from Newark Liberty International Airport will provide unique value in serving the New York City/Newark region, the largest metropolitan area in the country and home to the second-largest population of Cuban Americans. For more than 20 years, United has offered the New York City/Newark region the most flights to the most destinations around the world.

“Today is an exciting day for people who want the opportunity and better options to visit Cuba,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “Newark will benefit greatly from United’s new competition in the U.S.-Cuba market, which will spur economic activity and job creation in our area. United service enables the nearly 80,000 Cuban Americans living in New Jersey – along with many more Americans throughout the largest metropolitan area in the country – new travel choices and business development opportunities. I thank Secretary Foxx and the DOT for recognizing the value of this route, and want to also thank United Airlines for supporting Newark as a gateway to Cuba.”

Also the Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said that “Secretary Anthony Foxx and the U.S. Department of Transportation made an outstanding decision by approving United Airline’s application for Saturday service between Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport and Havana’s Jose Marti international Airport.

“Secretary Foxx and United both recognized the very significant economic and consumer benefits these flights to Cuba will bring to Houston-area residents, travelers, businesses and entrepreneurs. While there are nearly 20,000 Cuban Americans in Houston alone, United’s service will also connect communities across the central and western U.S. Again, I would like to thank Secretary Foxx and United Airlines for making our great city one of the first new gateways to Cuba,” Mayor Turner added.

Bush Intercontinental will be an important gateway for service to Havana and will directly connect 20 markets across the central and western United States to Cuba with just one stop. The Cuban-American population in the Houston metropolitan area ranks among the top ten cities in the country.

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