U.S. Forwarders Urge DoT to Think Freight When Awarding Cuba Licenses
The U.S. Airforwarders Association (AFA) has urged the United States Department of Transportation (DoT) to assign routes Cuba to U.S. passenger airlines that also offer air cargo service.
U.S. and Cuban officials signed an arrangement that provides for the re-establishment of scheduled air services between the United States and Cuba last month. Immediately following the signing, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) invited U.S. air carriers to apply for an allocation of the new opportunities to provide scheduled passenger and cargo flights.
The AFA said a total of eight U.S. carriers had applied to operate routes between the US and Cuba, but only five of those airlines—Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines and Alaska Airlines—offer cargo services.
“The opening of Cuba to travel is about more than just moving people, it will also be about trade,” said AFA executive director Brandon Fried. “The eligibility of any airline that ultimately cannot fill planes with both passengers and cargo should be looked upon less favorably.”
At this point, significant airport infrastructure and economic limitations exist within Cuba that present real challenges to trade. “Once those limitations are solved, the Airforwarders Association looks forward to working with carriers that, as experienced cargo handlers, intend to offer airfreight service to enhance trade promotion with Cuba,” said Fried.
The Department of Transportation plans to study the requests with final comments and answers due on March 21.