News and notes from Hartsfield-Jackson, the world's busiest airport

Delta applies to fly to Cuba from Atlanta, New York, Miami, Orlando

Delta Air Lines has filed an application to fly to Cuba from Atlanta, New York, Miami and Orlando.

From Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Delta would fly to Havana with Boeing 757-200 jets.

The airline also applied to fly to Havana from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport with Boeing 757s, and to Havana from Miami and Orlando with Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

"This is a historic moment for Delta as we seek to provide unparalleled access between the U.S. and Cuba," said Delta's senior vice president of network and schedule planning Bob Cortelyou in a written statement.

Atlanta's location "makes the airport an ideal interior gateway to Cuba, allowing one-stop Havana service to virtually every cluster of Cuban Americans as well as the best connectivity for U.S. travelers regardless of their origin," according to Delta's filing.

The New York route is Delta's top priority, while the Atlanta route is its second priority, according to the carrier's filing.

If approved, Delta says the four routes it applied for would advance its goal to be "the best U.S. airline in Latin America and the Caribbean."

However, Delta has hefty competition for that title from American, which has a hub in Miami that acts as a hub to Latin America, and United, which has a gateway to Latin America in its Houston hub.

In its filing Delta writes: "Delta, despite a strong, broad offering, is the smallest U.S. network carrier to Latin America," adding that the routes it is applying for "would lead to enhanced competition between Delta and the established hubs and networks of American and United."

Delta and other airlines applied for routes to Cuba in preparation for the resumption of scheduled commercial airline flights from the United States to Cuba for the first time in more than 50 years. Wednesday was the deadline for airlines to file applications.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, the second-largest carrier in Atlanta, applied to fly to Cuba from Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa and Orlando.

With the restart of scheduled airline service between the two countries, U.S. visitors to Cuba must still qualify under one of 12 categories authorized by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.



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Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.