Delta Air Lines Inc. has filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation to fly nonstop to Havana, Cuba, from Atlanta and three other U.S. hubs, the airline announced Wednesday.
The U.S. and Cuba signed an agreement in February to allow scheduled commercial flights to resume, covering 20 daily roundtrips to Havana and 10 roundtrips to other Cuban cities. Previously, only charter flights were allowed by the U.S.
Delta is also aiming for service to the island nation of 11 million people from Miami, New York andOrlando. Delta’s Atlanta-Havana flight would deploy a Boeing 757-200, which generally has about 180 seats.
Cuba is still under a U.S. trade embargo that can be lifted only through congressional action, but travel for medical or religious purposes, family visits and educational exchange is allowed. Many groups haveheaded south from Atlanta to observe Cuba’s changing political and economic landscape and to explore the business potential of a market largely closed to U.S. companies.
The two nations have rapidly increased engagement since December 2014, when U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced intentions to reestablish diplomatic ties after more than a half century estranged. The U.S. Embassy reopened in Havana last July.
“We look forward to providing access to the island from the U.S. and around the world,” said Nicolas Ferri, Delta’s vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean, in a statement. “If approved, these frequencies would increase the strength of our network, advancing Delta’s goal to be the best U.S. airline in Latin America and the Caribbean.”
Mr. Obama will visit Cuba March 21-22, after which he will head down to Argentina.