Delta to launch flights to Havana on Dec. 1

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines will launch scheduled flights to Havana from Atlanta, Miami and New York on Dec. 1.

The airline plans to begin selling the flights to Cuba Sept. 10.

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Wednesday finalized its approval of flights by Delta and other airlines to Havana. The routes are subject to Cuban regulatory approval.

The DOT decision came on the day of the first scheduled airline flight from the United States to Cuba in more than 50 years. JetBlue flew Wednesday from Fort Lauderdale to Santa Clara, Cuba. The DOT first approved routes to other cities in Cuba before approving the Havana routes. Delta targeted Havana in its route application, and did not apply for routes to other cities in Cuba.

With the restart of scheduled airline service, U.S. visitors to Cuba must still qualify under one of 12 categories authorized by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

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Nicolas Ferri, Delta’s vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean, issued a statement saying Delta looks forward to “reuniting families and supporting a new generation of travelers seeking to engage and explore this unique destination.”

The Obama Administration re-established diplomatic relations and a U.S-Cuba deal earlier this year opened the door for scheduled airline flights.

“Transportation has a unique role in this historic initiative and we look forward to the benefits these new services will provide to those eligible for Cuba travel,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a written statement.

Delta in recent years has operated some charter flights to Cuba, but discontinued them in 2012 amid weak demand from travelers.

The last time Delta operated scheduled service to Cuba was 1961, when it suspended flights from New Orleans to Havana.

Delta was one of eight airlines that gained approval for routes to Havana, with other carriers planning to launch flights from other U.S. cities.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, the second-largest carrier at Hartsfield-Jackson, gained final approval for flights to Havana from Fort Lauderdale and Tampa Bay. Southwest also plans to fly from Fort Lauderdale to Santa Clara and Varadero in Cuba.

Alaska, American, Frontier, JetBlue, Spirit and United also gained approval for Havana routes.

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