Cuba is opening back up to Americans with the lifting of a number of flight restrictions that were introduced during the Trump administration.
Former US President Donald Trump had prevented US airline flights and chartered flights from going to Cuban cities other than Havana during his presidency.
The stated reason for the ban was to prevent tourism to Cuba which was barred by US law. Travel to Cuba for tourist activities remains prohibited by statute. However, the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has now issued general licenses for 12 categories of travel.
Secretary of state Antony Blinken sent a letter to the transportation department on Tuesday asking it to revoke the restrictions, and the agency followed through Wednesday.
Blinken said opening up flights to Cuba was “in support of the Cuban people and in the foreign policy interests of the United States.”
He said that once the transportation department followed through on his request, “scheduled and charter air services between the United States and Cuban airports may resume effective immediately.”
The Biden administration announced last month that it would expand flights to Cuba, take steps to loosen restrictions on US travellers to the island, and lift restrictions on money that immigrants can send to people on the island.
The administration said it would also move to reinstate the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program, which has a backlog of more than 20,000 applications, and increase consular services and visa processing.
Speaking last month, state department spokesman Ned Price said: “With these actions, we aim to support Cubans’ aspirations for freedom and for greater economic opportunities so that they can lead successful lives at home.”