Delta plans to start charter flights to Cuba in April

Delta Air Lines has filed plans to begin charter flights from Atlanta to Havana, Cuba starting April 2.

Atlanta-based Delta's route filing says it plans to fly once a week from Atlanta to Havana on Boeing 737-800 jets from April 2 to Aug. 27 next year.

However, the flights are pending government approval, are not yet available for sale and Delta has not announced which charter operator it will partner with for the route.

The move marks Delta's return to Cuba after operating charter flights to the country in 2011 and 2012. It discontinued the flights amid weak demand.

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

President Barack Obama has taken steps toward easing travel restrictions to Cuba. While scheduled airline flights to Cuba from the United States are not yet permitted, airlines can offer charter flights for Americans to travel to Cuba under certain circumstances, including "people-to-people" education exchanges with a sponsoring organization.

Airlines typically work with a charter operator such as Cuba Travel Services, which partners with American Airlines and JetBlue on charter flights to Cuba from other cities.

Delta CEO Richard Anderson earlier this year said Delta would resume flights to Cuba and launch scheduled service when allowed, but that it wouldn't be a "game-changer."

In addition to the charter flights Delta operated three years ago, Delta also served Cuba from 1953 to 1961.