Nov 28 U.S. airlines are proceeding with plans
to launch new flights to Cuba this week despite doubts that
President-elect Donald Trump has raised about the future of ties
between the countries.
American Airlines Group Inc, the world's largest
airline, kicked off its first flight to Havana from Miami on
Monday and intends to launch Charlotte-Havana service on
Its rival for Caribbean travel, JetBlue Airways Corp
, has three new flights to Havana starting this week,
with the first having departed from New York on Monday at 9:45
a.m. ET (1445 GMT), according to tracking website
The new service comes as Trump said in a Twitter post on
Monday that he will "terminate deal" between Cuba and the
United States if the communist-ruled island does not make an
agreement that is better for the people of both countries.
The former Cold War foes began normalizing relations in
December 2014 after 18 months of secret talks and have since
restored full diplomatic ties.
They reached a memorandum of understanding that allowed U.S.
airlines to start scheduled flights to Cuba after a half-century
hiatus, and the Obama administration has eased travel
restrictions for U.S. citizens - though general tourism remains
It was not immediately clear if Trump would target the
aviation deal or other aspects of the detente. It also was
unclear if there would be any impact from the death on Friday of
Fidel Castro, who ousted U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista
in Cuba's 1959 revolution.
"While we can't speculate, we are full steam ahead to begin
service to Havana this week," said American Airlines spokesman
Matt Miller. "We are proud to be the leading carrier between the
U.S. and Cuba."
JetBlue spokespeople did not immediately comment on whether
the airline was concerned that the incoming Trump administration
would curtail its service to Cuba.
Scrapping the flights would throw a wrench in the plans of
U.S. airlines, which expect an eventual payout from
Cuban-Americans visiting relatives, leisure travelers desiring
an experience that was once off limits, and executives buying
business class fares to evaluate commercial opportunities in
U.S. carriers have already been flying to lower-demand
destinations in the island's provinces for months so they could
establish a foothold there.
JetBlue was the first company to start service, with a
flight on Aug. 31 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Santa Clara,
a city in the central part of the island with a population of
about 200,000 that is known for its monument to revolutionary
leader Ernesto "Che" Guevara.
(Reporting By Malathi Nayak in New York and Jeffrey Dastin in
Los Angeles; Editing by Alan Crosby)