If you are in aviation – commercial or private – there are potential new business opportunities in Cuba. The American government and our new friendly neighbor to the south, the Republic of Cuba last sat at the negotiation table to discuss Air Transportation agreements in 1957, as parties to the Convention on International Civil Aviation. Nearly sixty years later, on February 16, 2016, the United States government and Cuba entered into an aviation agreement, the U.S.-Cuba Memorandum of Understanding of February 16, 2016, and intend to apply the basis of comity and reciprocity of the agreement.

Immediately after, Anthony Foxx, U.S. Transportation Secretary, Charles Rivkin, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, Adel Yzquierdo Rodriguez, Cuban Minister of Transportation and Colonel Alfredo Cordero Puig, President of the Cuban Civil Aviation Institute (IACC), Ministry of Transportation  signed the agreement, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) encouraged U.S. air carriers to apply for licensing and authorization to offer flights to Cuba.

While there have been no scheduled flights between the United States and Cuba for over half a century, this agreement grants permission to American and Cuban airlines, cargo and passenger aircrafts, to perform scheduled and charter services between American and Cuban ports for the purposes of international air transportation.

At the outset, countries are able to operate flights to and from the other country (one-way or round-trip flights); combine different flight numbers; make layovers outside of the U.S. or Cuba or within either country, amongst other permissions.

Interestingly enough, this agreement offers flexibility to the airline companies with regard to regulation compliance. The agreement states that an airline should have the option to comply with the rules of its homeland or of the other country. But if an airline should opt for its homeland regulations, the other country must subject the airline to the least restrictive criterion it has in place. The clock is now ticking for international airlines to apply for route licenses and and flight frequencies from the U.S. to Cuba and vice-versa.

What does this agreement mean for commercial flights to Cuba?

Once the international airline company is permitted to travel to Cuba, they may offer up to twenty (20) daily scheduled round-trip flights to and from Havana. Scheduled services to the nine (9) other Cuban destinations are limited up to ten (10) daily round-trip flights, for a total of 110 daily roundtrip flights.

What does this mean for private or charter aviation companies?

Charter Services to any Cuban destination are not limited in the amount of round-trip flights to the island, so long as Cuban regulations permit such charters to land on its territory.

The time to apply is now! Applications are due March 2, 2016. If you are interested in submitting an application, Diaz Trade Law can assure compliance with the application requirements. Contact us at info@diaztradelaw.com to help you through the process.