Two airlines serving Wichita Eisenhower National Airport have received federal approval to begin scheduled service to Cuba.
The Department of Transportation announced Friday that American Airlines and Southwest Airlines are among six carriers approved to operate daily flights from five U.S. cities — Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Miami; Chicago; Philadelphia; and Minneapolis/St. Paul — to Cuba.
“Last year, President Obama announced that it was time to ‘begin a new journey’ with the Cuban people,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a news release Friday. “Today, we are delivering on his promise by re-launching scheduled air service to Cuba after more than half a century.”
The four other airlines allowed to operate Cuban flights are Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Silver Airways and Sun Country Airlines.
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The flights will be to the Cuban cities of Camagüey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguín, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara, and Santiago de Cuba.
American said in a news release it will operate two daily flights between Miami and Holguin, Santa Clara and Varadero, and one daily flight between Miami and Camaguey and Cienfuegos. It expects to begin operating those flights in September, American said.
Southwest spokesman Dan Landson said in an e-mail the airline will operate its flights to the Cuban cities of Varadero and Santa Clara from Ft. Lauderdale. That service is expected to launch later this year, he said.
Southwest also has applied to operate service to Havana from Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa Bay and Orlando, Landson said. Likewise, American officials also have requested to provide service to Havana from Miami; Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas-Fort Worth; Chicago; and Los Angeles.
The Transportation Department said it will announce later this summer which U.S. carriers will be allowed to serve Cuba’s capital city of Havana.
As it stands area travelers will have to make more than one stop to fly to Cuba on either airline, because neither American nor Southwest fly directly to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale from Wichita.