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The US and Cuba have officially agreed to restore commercial air travel

First flights will be selected this summer

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The US and Cuba signed an agreement Tuesday to restore the first commercial flights between the two former Cold War foes in over 50 years. Immediately after signing the pact, the US Department of Transportation invited commercial air carriers to submit their applications to carry passengers and cargo to and from the island nation.

The deal was signed by US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Charles Rivkin, Cuban Minister of Transportation Adel Yzquierdo Rodriguez, and president of the Cuban Civil Aviation Institute, Ministry of Transportation Colonel Alfredo Cordero Puig.

First flights in over 50 years

In making its selection, the Department said it "will consider which proposals will offer and maintain the best service to the traveling and shipping public." The details of the deal were leaked to the media over the weekend. Airlines have 15 days to submit their proposals to the US government, and final decisions will be handed down this summer.

The new arrangement allows up to 20 roundtrip flights between the US and Havana every day, as well as 10 additional trips between the US and each of Cuba's nine other airports. In total, 110 daily roundtrip flights are authorized between the US and Cuba. US passengers wishing to visit Cuba will need to fall under one of 12 authorized categories, such as family visits, official business, or journalistic activity. Restrictions on tourism will still apply.