Several news reports are indicating that scheduled commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba may start within the next 12 months, following the lift on U.S. sanctions against the island nation.
United States Officials Meet with Cuban Counterparts to Discuss Tourism Legislation
JetBlue have already released a statement that they would be interested in launching a scheduled U.S. to Cuba service once the regulatory requirements have been agreed upon. The airline currently operates a once-weekly charter service between New York JFK and Havana. Currently, the only way for American and Cuban-American citizens to visit Cuba is via chartered tour companies and travel must be approved by Government officials. Legislation that would effectively lift the tourism ban and the American trade embargo is currently pending in the United States Congress.
A delegation from the U.S. State Department met with officials in Havana this week in a bid to draw up terms that would allow for regular scheduled flights between the two countries. There have been no regular scheduled flights between the U.S. and Cuba since 1962, when United States officials imposed a trade embargo on Cuba. More United States citizens have visited Cuba in the past couple of years, with Beyoncé and Jay-Z receiving heavy criticism for visiting the country in April 2013. An investigation into the trip followed, which found that the couple did hold the required licence from the Treasury Department for the trip.
The move towards allowing American citizens to visit Cuba is the latest Obama administration measure to ease relations between the two nations. Previously, the administration relaxed deportation guidelines for illegal immigrants. Under the new guidelines, 87% of illegal immigrants in the U.S. will not face deportation. It is expected that Cuba's poor human rights record is likely to feature as a key element in the talks to lift the tourism ban.
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