North America

United Airlines applies to serve Cuba from four global gateways

Tis Meyer /

United Airlines has submitted its formal application to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for authority to provide service from four of its largest U.S. gateway cities – Newark/New York, Houston, Washington, D.C. and Chicago – to Havana’s José Martí International Airport.

If approved, United will be one of the first U.S. airlines to offer customers daily, nonstop scheduled service to Cuba.

“This is a historic moment for our company, our employees and, most importantly, our customers,” said Oscar Munoz, United’s president and chief executive officer. “We want to be the first choice for passengers traveling between the U.S. and Cuba. We’re able to offer customers the best access, convenience and connections to and from Havana through our industry-leading global route network, and we’re excited to compete for this important service.”

United’s proposal to DOT outlines its planned service to Havana from hubs serving four of the country’s largest Cuban-American populations. The service would include a total of 11 roundtrip flights per week with daily service from Newark Liberty and one additional Saturday flight (eight weekly flights), along with a Saturday-only flight from Houston George Bush Intercontinental, Washington Dulles and Chicago O’Hare (three weekly flights). If United’s application is approved, service to Havana on these routes will be operated with United Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

Daily nonstop service from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) Newark is ideally positioned to serve the region’s Cuban-American community, which is highly concentrated in the area surrounding Newark Liberty. The Newark/New York City metropolitan area is home to the largest Cuban-American population outside of Miami. For more than 20 years, United has offered millions of customers throughout the Newark/New York metropolitan area the most flights to the most destinations around the world. Customers in this important market need and deserve a robust suite of options for travel to Cuba.

Saturday nonstop service from Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) Houston is United’s primary gateway to Latin America. Rated as one of the most international-friendly points of entry for foreign travelers, United operates 91 daily nonstop flights to 52 destinations across Latin America and the Caribbean from its Houston hub. Houston will be an important gateway to Havana, directly connecting 20 key markets across the central and western U.S. to Cuba with convenient one-stop service. The Cuban-American population in the Houston metropolitan area ranks eighth nationally.

Saturday nonstop service from Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) The Washington, D.C. metropolitan area is home to the nation’s tenth-largest Cuban-American population as well as the government institutions and political and economic organizations that are key to building the U.S.-Cuba relationship. United’s service between Washington Dulles and Havana will link two international capitals with weekly nonstop service and will connect 20 U.S. markets to Cuba with just one stop.

Saturday nonstop service from Chicago O’Hare (ORD) United is Chicago’s hometown airline and home to the country’s sixth-largest Cuban-American community. With nearly 500 daily flights, including nonstop service to 21 destinations across Latin America and the Caribbean, United’s O’Hare hub was recognized as having the best connections to other airports, large and small, in the U.S. and around the world, according to the Airport Connectivity Quality Index. Chicago’s gateway to Havana will connect 28 key markets in the U.S. to Cuba with one-stop service.

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