US announces restrictions on flying to Cuba

Sunday, October 27, 2019

On Friday, the United States Department of Transportation announced new restrictions on flights to Cuba. The new policy, which is to take effect on December 10, prohibits all flights to Cuba, with the exception of flights to the international airport in Havana.

Pompeo, 2018 (Image: USDoS)
Chao, 2019 (Image: USDoT)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent a letter requesting the new rules to Elaine Chao, the Secretary of Transportation; the new rules were released later the same day. In the letter, Pompeo cited the Cuban government's "ongoing repression of the Cuban people and its support for Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela" as his motivation. The new regulations do not apply to José Martí International Airport, for which Pompeo requested an exemption.

Bruno Parrilla, the foreign affairs minister of Cuba, responded to the new rules via Twitter: "I strongly reject new #US blockade measure that bans #US airlines' flights to 9 Cuban airports [...] they won't extract any concession from us. We shall overcome!"

According to CBS, the delayed implementation of the new policy provides airlines with 45 days to wind down Cuban operations. American Airlines and JetBlue are among the airlines affected, as they both offer flights to Cuban cities other than Havana.

The move was the Trump administration's latest application of pressure on Cuba's government, following improved bilateral relations during the presidency of Barack Obama.