Aviation deal on US-Cuba air service likely this year

By Money Times

Oct 01, 2015 09:59 AM EDT

The latest outcome of the two-day meeting between the US and Cuba held in Havana has paved the way for reviving the airline service between the both the nations. The commercial airline services between both the nations have been suspended for a long time. The agreement on restoring the airline service is expected to be complete this year. The officials from both the countries have decided to meet again before December. The follow-up meeting is expected to be held in Washington.

Only charter flights are connecting Cuba with the US so far. Taking a major step in reviving the airline services, the US government has framed new norms in last January that enable US airlines to fly to Cuba.

Before reviving the airline services, the officials of the US and Cuba have decided to discuss the new arrangement system for restoring the air link. The cold war in Cuba has resulted in the stoppage of commercial airline service to the US for over decades. However, the US and Cuba have decided to recommence the airline service as early as possible. 

"One more meeting might be enough to finalize an arrangement. I can't be sure," said an official from the US, on a condition of anonymity. After the second meeting and successful restoration of air service, travelers from both the countries can travel directly with airlines.

It's expected that the US and Cuba may sign an informal deal. Then both the nations will work on updating a 1953 civil aviation agreement, which is still valid, but obsolete, according to the officials familiar with the development. 

The US airlines see business potential in reviving the airline services to Cuba. The aviation sector may witness further growth if the US Congress lifts the ban on tourism to Cuba or removes the embargo, observe aviation analysts. 

The latest meeting between both the countries has started easing-off the tension that's lasting over decades. The US President Obama and Cuba President Raul Castro have discussed on bilateral issues but didn't answer the questions from the media. Obama and Castro held their first meeting in April. Subsequently, both the nations reopened their embassies in Havana and Washington. The US President Barack Obama and Cuba President Raul Castro recently had discussions during a bilateral meeting at the United Nations Headquarters on 29 September 2015 in New York. 

The US officials say that there's no deadline on restoring the airline service. The US airlines are keen to reviving the services to Cuba. Both the nations are on positive note reviving the airline. JetBlue Airways Corp, American Airlines Group, Delta Airlines and United Airlines have already expressed their interest on reviving the services to Cuba. 

As part of the restoration of air services between the US and Cuba, six US departments are involved in discussions with the counterparts from Cuba. The US officials are keen on safety and security cooperation. The current charter flights are adhering to the standards set by US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transport Safety Administration (TSA). The US has been the general tourism to Cuba. However, Obama government relaxed certain norms on tourism.  

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