Today, February 16, 2016, the US Department of Transportation and Cuban government officials signed a December 2015 agreement to restore commercial air travel. There have been no scheduled flights between the US and Cuba for over 50 years.

According to the DOT, the Agreement provides each country with the opportunity to operate up to 20 daily roundtrip flights between the US and Havana as well up to 10 daily roundtrip flights between the US and each of Cuba’s nine other international airports.

Applications for US air carriers to apply for the opportunity to provide scheduled passenger and cargo flights for these new routes are due March 2, 2016; answers to applications are due March 14, 2016; and replies to those answers are due March 21, 2016. Interested parties can track the progress of the case and view the publicly available documents at www.regulations.gov, docket DOT-OST-2016-0021. The Transportation Department reportedly stated that“{d}ecisions on which airlines and which US cities will have commercial service to Cuba are expected to be made by this summer, and the first scheduled flights could begin by next fall.”

US persons wishing to travel to Cuba must still qualify for one of the 12 existing travel categories (e.g., family, educational activities, journalists, professional research/meetings, humanitarian projects, exhibitions, etc.) but regularly scheduled flights will certainly make planning this travel easier.