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United Airlines has said it plans to offer flights to Cuba following a relaxation of travel restrictions announced by US president Barack Obama last month.
"We plan to serve Cuba, subject to government approvals, and look forward to doing so from our global gateways of Newark and Houston," United spokesman Rahsaan Johnson said in a statement on Thursday.
From today (January 16) certain barriers to travel and trade have been lifted, including raising the limit on remittances from Cubans living abroad to up to $10,000 and allowing internet and mobile phone companies to export equipment.
General travel is restricted to 12 designated categories, including: professional meetings, educational activities, family commitments and athletic competitions but travellers that fall into one of the categories will no longer need a special licence to travel.
The Guardian has reported that US officials have hinted at the possibility of direct scheduled flights between American airports and Cuba once further regulatory reviews are carried out by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.
“I think you can expect further clarification from those agencies about the next step,” one senior administration official said.
“This does change the travel restrictions dramatically,” the official added. “Over time, as the Department of Transportation and the Department of Homeland Security are able to implement their required steps, it is possible under these changes that we could have regularly scheduled air travel and that could mean that you as a traveller could go online to buy a ticket.
“You would still need to certify that you fall within one of the existing categories, but this could simplify things,” the official added.