The United States Department of Transportation informed local Historic City News reporters Friday that Frontier Airlines, which currently originates flights to Philadelphia and Chicago from Northeast Florida Regional Airport in St Augustine, is one of six airlines who have been selected as approved carriers for flights into and out of Cuba.
The other airline carriers are American Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Sun Country Airlines and Silver Airways.
Still to be decided is how frequently flights will be permitted at nine Cuban cities which include Camagüey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguín, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara, and Santiago de Cuba. The brass ring for the airlines, of course, will be the re-emerging nation’s capitol, Havana; although approved destinations for Havana flights are still being worked out.
St Augustine, as well as Jacksonville, are capable of clearing Homeland Security US Customs Service in northeast Florida; however, the first flights into Cuba will likely be from south Florida.
One of the carriers, Silver Airways, reported today that they have reached agreement to fly to all nine Cuban cities out of Fort Lauderdale. The company’s CFO, Jason Bewley, indicated in televised interviews that once the Havana destination receives the final okay, and the airline knows what frequency of flights they will receive, they can begin the process of allocating those flights to destinations that will first include Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Bewley said, “Our second priority would be Key West and Jacksonville.”
Frontier, together with Silver and the other approved carriers, will share planned flights to Cuba from Miami, as well as Chicago, Minneapolis/St Paul, and Philadelphia.
Frontier officials who were in St Augustine two months ago to celebrate the resumption of weekly flights to the two new destinations, are not saying what role, if any, St Augustine will play in their Cuban flight program.