U.S. to restore commercial flights to Cuba in coming weeks

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WASHINGTON — In just a matter of days, U.S. airlines will begin a fierce biddding war to win routes and airport slots to a destination thats been off limits to them for more than 50 years: Cuba.

Starting Tuesday, U.S. carriers will have 15 days to submit applications to the U.S. Department of Transportation for routes they’d like to fly between the U.S and Cuba.

The development brings airlines and travelers yet another step closer to scheduled commercial flights between the two countries.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and staff from the U.S. Department of State will fly from Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C., to Cuba to formally sign an agreement to resume flights between the two countries.

“You know it’s usually significant, when the President made this announcement of reestablishing diplomatic relations more than a year ago,” Foxx told CNN. “It really means a great deal to the people of both countries, leaving aside the political differences, there’s so many cultural connections between the two countries, in some cases family connections, the ability to have educational exchanges and things that that happen as a result of resumption of this service, is really really significant.”

The agreement was reached in December 2015.