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US approves American flights to Cuba

6 carriers approved by Department of Transportation

MIAMI – Six U.S. carriers have been given approval to start scheduled flights to Cuba as early as this fall.

The U.S. Department of Transportation gave the approval to American Airlines, JetBlue, Silver Airways, Southwest, Sun Country and Frontier.

The six airlines will be able to offer up to 155 round-trip flights per week.

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

The airlines will be allowed to fly from five U.S. cities, including Miami and Fort Lauderdale. The other cities of departure are Chicago, Philadelphia and Minneapolis/St. Paul.

American Airlines said it will operate two daily flights between Miami and Holguin, Santa Clara and Varadero, and a daily flight between Miami and Camaguey and Cinefuegos.

"We are very pleased the Department of Transportation has awarded American the authority to operate scheduled service in the U.S.-Cuba market," said Steve Johnson, American's executive vice president of Corporate Affairs. "The resumption of scheduled air service to Cuba is a historic achievement and we commend Secretary Foxx and his team for making it a reality. We look forward to giving our customers direct access to Cuba and eagerly await the Department’s decision on flights to Havana."

JetBlue will offer three daily round trips out of Fort Lauderdale to Santa Clara, Camaguey and Holguin.

"Today's news is historic on many fronts, especially for the families who, for the first time in generations, will have affordable award-winning air travel to visit their loved ones," said Robin Hayes, president and chief executive officer of JetBlue. "We have been entrusted to put our mission of inspiring humanity to work. We are committed to providing those traveling to and from Cuba with the best customer experience -- from the minute they book a flight until they arrive back home."