The United States and Cuba signed a deal Tuesday officially allowing flights between the two countries to resume for the first time in more than 50 years.
Federal officials said the agreement will allow more than 100 daily round-trip flights between the United States and 10 airports in Cuba. Charter flights between the two countries — currently the only option for passengers seeking air travel — will be allowed to continue.
After months of negotiations, the two nations agreed to a deal in December that would allow for commercial flights to resume. That pact came a little less than a year after President Obama announced that the two countries would reestablish diplomatic relations.
The agreement became official after it was signed Tuesday by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and officials from the State Department, the Cuban Ministry of Transportation and the Cuban Civil Aviation Institute.
It allows for travelers who fit one of 12 categories laid out by the Treasury Department, including people visiting family members, practicing journalism, participating in athletic competitions, supporting the Cuban people or having business meetings.
Under the new deal, there can be a total of 110 daily round-trip flights between the United States and the island. Up to 20 of those flights would go through Havana, while the rest would go through the country’s nine other international airports.
The deal was signed Tuesday in Havana. At a ceremony on the island, Foxx called it “a historic day,” according to Reuters.
The Transportation Department said carriers can now begin applying for direct access to Cuba, a process that also will involve figuring out which U.S. airports will offer such flights.
Carriers in the United States already have made it clear that they plan to apply for the new routes to and from Cuba, with JetBlue, United Airlines and American Airlines all saying they want in on the new option.
American Airlines said Tuesday that it plans to include flights from its Miami International Airport hub and other locations in its application for service. Last year, American said it operated about 1,200 charter flights to Cuba. JetBlue said in a statement that it “eagerly awaits the opportunity” to add flights to and from Cuba, while adding that it would continue the charter flights it began offering in 2011.
This story has been updated. First published: 11:33 a.m.