Date
10 December 2016
American Airlines Group Inc. launched its maiden flight to Havana from Miami on Monday and plans a Charlotte-Havana service on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters
American Airlines Group Inc. launched its maiden flight to Havana from Miami on Monday and plans a Charlotte-Havana service on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters

US airlines launch Cuba flights despite doubts over Trump

US airlines plan to launch new flights to Cuba this week despite doubts from President-elect Donald Trump about the future of ties between the two countries.

American Airlines Group Inc., the world’s largest airline, kicked off its first flight to Havana from Miami on Monday and plans to launch Charlotte-Havana service on Wednesday, Reuters reports.

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, according to tracking website FlightAware.com.

The new service comes as Trump said in a Twitter post on Monday that he will “terminate [the] 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 US airlines to start scheduled flights to Cuba after a half-century hiatus, and the Obama administration has eased travel restrictions for US citizens — although general tourism remains illegal.

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 US-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.”

US carriers have already been flying to lower-demand destinations in the island’s provinces for months so they could establish a foothold there.

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