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Itching to visit Cuba? Flight options could expand soon. (+video)

The US government is negotiating with Cuba to allow scheduled commercial flights between the two countries by December.

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Family and friends watch as travelers arrive at the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, Cuba, July 3. US air carrier Jet Blue launched on Friday direct charter flights from New York to Havana. American Airlines is planning to begin sending charter flights from Los Angeles to Havana in December.

Desmond Boylan/AP

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If everything goes according to plan, you may soon be able to take a commercial flight to Cuba. Talk about taking the long way around.

Washington is working with Havana to strike a deal that would allow commercial airlines to establish service between the US and Cuba by December this year, according to a The Wall Street Journal.

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The Obama administration is also looking for ways to ease US congressional restrictions on travel by Americans to Cuba, according to the newspaper.

On Friday, the American flag was raised over the reopened US Embassy in Havana for the first time in 54 years at a ceremony led by Secretary of State John Kerry.

“It makes no sense that Americans can travel freely anywhere in the world except Cuba," said Tim Rieser, foreign policy aide to Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont told the paper.

There are only 12 authorized reasons – such as family or business visits – for Americans to travel to Cuba at this time, but there’s no open travel or regular flight services yet.

American Airlines said Tuesday that it would begin offering charter flights to Cuba from the West Coast by December, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“Partnering with tour operator Cuba Travel Services, based in Cypress, the airline will offer Saturday flights on Boeing 737s out of Los Angeles International Airport beginning in December,” reports the LA Times.

"We stand ready to offer scheduled service as soon as the United States and Cuba allow commercial flights,” Art Torno, a senior vice president at American Airlines, said in a statement.

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So far, only one other major US carrier has opened up direct flights to Havana following the restoration of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. Last month, JetBlue Airways Corp began direct charter flights between New York City and the Cuban capital in July. It was the first flight to Cuba departing from New York in five decades.

This report includes material from Reuters.


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