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US and Cuba OK Commercial Flights

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on December 22, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

President Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro continue to work on improving US-Cuban relations, last week announcing flights between the two countries will resume. But most Americans are still officially prohibited from traveling to Cuba, according to the State Department, and there are no plans in place to actually resume commercial flights anytime soon. They have just been approved.

Despite the prohibition on American tourist travel to Cuba, some Americans and countless other tourists from around the world have long visited the island nation even without direct flights. And tourism in Cuba today is booming, according to reports from National Public Radio.

Sticking Points Remain

In the past year, Cuba and the U.S. have agreed to cooperate on drug traffic control, environmental protections, and the re-establishment of direct mail. But full relations have yet to be restored and neither country has seen all its demands met by the other.

Cuba wants the U.S. to lift its economic embargo and pay reparations, which the Castro regime says amount to $120 billion. The U.S. is seeking $18 billion for property seized in the communist takeover, and an improvement in human rights.

"Most tourists still cannot legally visit Cuba, but a State Department spokesman says having a stronger aviation relationship will promote authorized travel and improve people-to-people contact," according to NPR's Carrie Kahn.

Island Vacations?

American planes are not going to be flying tourists to Cuba immediately, but the aviation agreement is a clear signal that relations between the nations continue to improve and that we could be vacationing in Cuba soon. The deal struck between Obama and Castro will allow up 20 flights a day to Havana from the US and up to 10 daily flights to Cuba's other airports. In total, this will allow for about 110 possible flights between the countries every day.

Right now, there are no commercial flights actually planned between the countries, just approved. Currently, charter flights do travel directly between Cuba and the U.S. and are allowed to travel with unlimited frequency. Hopefully soon, the rest of will be allowed to do so, too.

If you have questions foreign travel, obtaining a visa to go abroad, or even foreign adoption, speak to a lawyer. Counsel can help you sort out your options.

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