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US bans flights to all Cuban cities but Havana

Latest move by Trump to roll back Obama-era relations with island

The U.S. Embassy along Malecon Seaside Avenue in Havana, Cuba, on Aug. 12, 2015.

HAVANA – Two people briefed on the matter say the Trump administration is banning the flights to all Cuban cities but Havana in the latest move to roll back Obama-era easing of relations.

The people say the Transportation Department will announce that JetBlue and American Airlines flights to Santa Clara in central Cuba and Holguin and Camaguey in the island's east will be banned starting in December. Flights to Havana account for the great majority of U.S. flights to Cuba and will remain legal.

The stated reason for the move is to prevent tourism to Cuba, which is banned by U.S. law. But it is not clear how many people take the flights for tourism purposes. Many are used by Cuban-Americans visiting relatives in cities far from Havana by road.

In June, the Trump administration announced that Americans would no longer be able to visit the island through "people to people" group travel, and cruise ships could not stop in Cuba.

These latest developments are another step toward President Donald Trump's campaign promise to reverse Barack Obama's Cuba policy of restoring diplomatic ties and loosening travel restrictions.