HAVANA TIMES — US citizens wanting to book a regular flight online to Cuba, impossible for decades, may soon be a reality. Representative of the US and Cuban governments will meet next week in Havana to study the restoration of regular commercial flights, the White House confirmed to dpa news on Tuesday.
“A delegation from the US government will meet with its Cuban counterpart to try and advance the establishment of regular commercial flights between the two countries and discuss aviation security.” The White House official said the meeting will be held in Havana on September 28 and 29.
While strictly tourist trips to the island are still banned b the US embargo, last week the US government eased travel restrictions imposed by the US legislation and imposed on the island since the 60’s.
The measure is part of the process of normalization of relations between the two countries.
“Increased travel to Cuba is a central objective of the new policy of president Obama,” said the White House representative who requested anonymity. “It will mean that Americans can more easily help the growth of civil society in Cuba and provide training for private entrepreneurs and small farmers,” he added.
Currently, those US citizens authorized to travel to the island can only do so on several charter flights. A number of US airlines have expressed interest to add Cuba to their destinations on regular commercial flights.
The US State Department said in August that travel to Cuba from the US increased by 35 percent since January.
“We are ready to offer regularly scheduled service as soon as the United States and Cuba allow commercial flights,” Art Torno, Vice President of American Airlines International and Cargo said back in August.
It is currently not possible to travel from the US to the island on a regular commercial flight of a US airline and book a ticket on the website of the airlines.
Cuban Americans with family in Cuba and US citizens authorized to travel to the island can reserve seats on charter flights through travel agencies authorized by Washington.
Since 2009, Cuban Americans can travel to the island to see their relatives without restrictions. In 2011 trips were extended to a limited number of other US citizens, such as family members, journalists, government officials, religious and humanitarian workers as well as different types of “people to people” educational, cultural, and professional group tours.
Since January of this year, following the easing of some aspects of the embargo, US citizens who fall within the 12 categories do not need to request permission from US authorities to travel to the island.
The US and Cuba resumed diplomatic relations on July 20th after 54 years of confrontation.