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Delta gets initial approval to increase Miami-Havana flights

Delta Air Lines has received initial approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation to increase its flying from Miami to Havana, Cuba.

Atlanta-based Delta already flies daily from Atlanta to Havana. Last year, the airline told the DOT it wants to scale back its New York-Havana flights to once a week and add a second daily flight from Miami to Havana.

The DOT last week proposed granting the additional Miami-Havana flying to Delta, and also tentatively awarded additional Havana flying rights for JetBlue, American, Southwest and United. The DOT invited public comment on its tentative decision before issuing a final decision.

Airlines have been competing for the new flying rights to Cuba, which were made available after Spirit and Frontier Airlines stopped flying to Havana.

The United States signed an agreement with Cuba in 2016 allowing each country to operate up to 20 daily round-trip flights between the United States and Havana. However, travel to Cuba is restricted and travelers must fit into one of 12 authorized categories to make the trip.

Delta in a letter to the DOT last year said recent regulatory changes “have resulted in lower demand for travel to Cuba from areas outside of South Florida,” in particular dampening demand for its New York-Havana flights.

Delta also told the DOT that adding an evening departure from Miami to Havana would allow it to reschedule Atlanta passengers who miss flights and still get them to their destinations the same day.

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About the Author

Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.