Cantwell, Members of WA Delegation on Announcement Selecting Alaska Airlines to Offer Flights to Cuba: Would Benefit Local, Regional Communities and Economy

Proposed service would attract local business, leisure, and Cuban American customers to PNW

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senators U.S. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representatives Jim McDermott (WA-07), Adam Smith (WA-09), Rick Larsen (WA-02), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Denny Heck (WA-10), and Derek Kilmer (WA-06) applauded the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) announcement that Alaska Airlines has been selected as a tentative awardee to provide service between the United States and Havana, Cuba. The flight would originate in Seattle and operate same plane service through Los Angeles to Havana.

In March, the members sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx urging him to consider Alaska Airlines’ application to offer service between Havana, Cuba and the U.S. They highlighted the proposed route’s potential to benefit local and regional communities and economies, and provide international travelers convenient connection options to access Cuba. The U.S.-Cuba market has been without scheduled air services for more than 50 years.

“Alaska’s existing Latin American gateway in Los Angeles, with nonstop service to nine other Latin American destinations, is uniquely positioned to provide flights between West Coast cities and Havana. Alaska’s proposed service would attract local business, leisure, and Cuban American customers while providing international travelers with convenient connection options to access one of the Caribbean’s most popular destinations,” the members wrote in the letter.

The Department has tentatively decided to allocate the 20 available U.S.-Havana, Cuba daily roundtrip flights to Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and United Airlines. DOT expects to announce final decisions later this summer and flights would begin later in 2016.