CHICAGO, March 21, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- United Airlines today submitted its final procedural filing to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for authority to begin commercial air service to Cuba from its global gateways in Newark/New York, Houston, Washington and Chicago to Havana's José Martí International Airport in Cuba. Last week's U.S. government authorization of people-to-people travel to Cuba underscores the benefit of choice and access that United's proposal for nonstop service to Havana would bring to four of the largest metropolitan areas and Cuban-American populations in the nation.
Steve Morrissey, United's vice president of regulatory and policy affairs, currently in Cuba as part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's trade delegation, said, "With people-to-people travel to Cuba now authorized, it's even more important to ensure individuals across the country – not only South Florida – have access to convenient air service to this beautiful and culturally rich country."
United's application has received more than 17,000 letters of support from its employees and customers, along with business and cultural leaders and elected officials at all levels of government.
An outpouring of support from cultural institutions in New Jersey, New York, Texas, Washington, D.C. and Illinois sent to U.S. DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx underscores the demand for U.S.-Cuba cultural exchange opportunities from four regions across the country, especially from the metropolitan areas United has applied to serve.
Daily nonstop service from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
United's proposed daily nonstop flight from Newark Liberty International Airport would provide unique value in serving the Newark/New York City region, the largest metropolitan area in the country and home to the second-largest population of Cuban Americans.
"For JALC, and the musicians, audiences and students we serve worldwide, [a new route between Newark and Havana] represents an opportunity to engage in unprecedented cross-cultural engagement in the service of our mission to nurture a global community for jazz," said Dwayne Ashley, vice president and chief development officer of Jazz at Lincoln Center, in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.
For more than 20 years, United has offered the Newark/New York City region the most flights to the most destinations around the world.
Saturday nonstop service from Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport is United's gateway to Latin America. Rated as one of the most efficient points of entry for foreign travelers, United offers 91 daily nonstop flights to 52 destinations across Latin America and the Caribbean from its Houston hub. Bush Intercontinental will be an important gateway for service to Havana and will directly connect 20 markets across the central and western United States to Cuba with just one stop. The Cuban-American population in the Houston metropolitan area ranks eighth nationally.
"United's new route from Houston to Havana would grant us greater access to Caribbean artists and audiences, increasing the possibilities for the generous in-kind travel support we receive annually from United Airlines that helps make HGO's productions truly 'world-class,'" wrote Perryn Lynch, managing director of the Houston Grand Opera, in a letter to Secretary Foxx.
Saturday nonstop service from Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
The Washington metropolitan area is home to the nation's tenth-largest Cuban-American population and to key political and economic organizations building the U.S.-Cuba relationship. United's service between Washington Dulles and Havana will link two international capitals with weekly nonstop service.
"The air travel that could be provided by United from Washington Dulles and Newark would be instrumental in allowing the Institute to bring artists, educators and government officials to Havana," wrote Herbie Hancock, jazz legend and chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, in a letter to Secretary Foxx. "In past years, congressional delegations have traveled to the International Jazz Day Global Host Cities to participate, and air travel from Washington Dulles would make it possible to travel directly from our nation's capital to Havana."
Saturday nonstop service from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD)
Chicago is home to the country's sixth-largest Cuban-American community. United, Chicago's hometown airline, offers nearly 500 daily flights from O'Hare, which the Airport Connectivity Quality Index noted for having the best connections to other U.S. airports, large and small.
"[We] hope the Department will grant United's application for all services requested from Chicago," wrote Jeff Alexander, president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, in a letter to Secretary Foxx. "This will allow us to lead transformative cultural exchange activities and further our mission to bring classical music to communities across the globe."
United Airlines and United Express operate an average of nearly 5,000 flights a day to 342 airports across six continents. In 2015, United and United Express operated nearly two million flights carrying 140 million customers. United is proud to have the world's most comprehensive route network, including U.S. mainland hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. United operates more than 700 mainline aircraft, and this year, the airline anticipates taking delivery of 20 new Boeing aircraft, including 737 NGs, 787s and 777s. The airline is a founding member of Star Alliance, which provides service to 192 countries via 28 member airlines. Approximately 84,000 United employees reside in every U.S. state and in countries around the world. For more information, visit united.com, follow @United on Twitter or connect on Facebook. The common stock of United's parent, United Continental Holdings, Inc., is traded on the NYSE under the symbol UAL.
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SOURCE United Airlines