FORT WORTH, Texas — U.S. officials on Wednesday approved a request by American Airlines to resume flights to five destinations in Cuba that were stopped in 2019 when the Trump administration sharply curtailed air service between the two countries.
The Transportation Department decision will let American resume flights from Miami to Santa Clara, Varadero, Holguin, Camaguey and Santiago de Cuba.
American said that starting in early November it will operate two daily flights to Santa Clara and one daily flight to each of the other airports.
American currently operates six flights a day between Miami and Havana. JetBlue and Southwest also fly to Havana.
The Trump administration, which wanted to starve Cuba's regime of cash, suspended flights between the U.S. and destinations in Cuba other than Havana. Two months ago, the Biden administration reversed that decision and announced it would loosen restrictions on U.S. travelers to the island.
The administration said it will also move to reinstate the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program, which has a backlog of more than 20,000 applications, and increase consular services and visa processing.
“With these actions, we aim to support Cubans’ aspirations for freedom and for greater economic opportunities so that they can lead successful lives at home,” State Department spokesman Ned Price added. “We continue to call on the Cuban government to immediately release political prisoners, to respect the Cuban people’s fundamental freedoms and to allow the Cuban people to determine their own futures.”
Former President Donald Trump had increased sanctions against Cuba, including the cancellation of permits to send remittances and the punishment of oil tankers bound for the island.
These measures and the pandemic contributed to an economic crisis in Cuba, where people suffer from shortages of basic products, power outages and rationing.