Trump's travel changes for Cuba won't take effect soon
Bart Jansen , USA TODAY Published 4:29 p.m. ET June 16, 2017 | Updated
5:49 p.m. ET June 16, 2017
Travel to Cuba won't be changing soon.
While President Trump announced Friday that he is "immediately"
canceling Obama's deal with Cuba, the reversal relies on regulations
that could take months — or years — to finalize.
Trump said he will strictly enforce the prohibition against Cuban travel
for tourism using rules that provide only 12 reasons, such as family
visits, educational activities and athletic competitions, for
entering the country.
"Our new policy begins with strictly enforcing U.S. law," Trump said.
"We will enforce the ban on tourism."
Ultimately, Trump proposed to block travel that benefits the Cuban
military, intelligence or security services. In order to accomplish
that, individual travel would be prohibited — people visiting the
country would need to go in groups.
The detailed regulatory proposals weren't released Friday. Trump's
national security memo on Cuba asked the departments of Treasury and
State to develop regulations within 30 days. The rules would then be
published for public comment and possible revisions.
The Treasury Department, which licenses Cuba travel, said in a statement
that individual travel will no longer be allowed for purposes such as
education under pursuit of an academic degree. "The traveler's schedule
of activities must not include free time or recreation in excess," the
Instead, the department will authorize group travel under the auspices
of an organization that maintains a full-time schedule of activities
that enhance contact with Cuban people, support civil society and
promote independence from Cuban authorities.
Airlines competed to provide flights after the Obama administration
initiated a resumption in diplomatic relations between the countries for
the first time in more than 50 years. Airlines had provided charter
flights for decades, but the restoration of ties allowed the resumption
of scheduled service considered key for business and personal ties.
JetBlue Airways pioneered flights in August to Santa Clara and other
airlines followed suit, with the first flights to Havana in November.
"JetBlue is committed to continuing air service between the U.S. and
Cuba. We plan to operate in full compliance of the new president's new
policy," JetBlue said in a statement Friday.
But with sluggish sales, some airlines have reduced the number of routes
and three carriers – Spirit, Frontier and Silver – have abandoned the
routes for now.
The remaining airlines are studying Trump's proposal while continuing to
"We are currently reviewing these policy changes and will continue to
follow this closely," said Jonathan Guerin, a spokesman for United Airlines.
Delta Air Lines said it would continue to fly non-stop to Havana from
New York's John F. Kennedy, Atlanta and Miami.
"Delta Air Lines will adhere to any changes in the regulations announced
by the Trump administration regarding travel to Cuba," the carrier said.
Leigh Barnes, regional director for Intrepid Travel, a tour company
which has brought 714 American passengers to Cuba in 47 trips since
2015, said tour operators would face stricter government audits about
travelers belonging to the 12 allowed categories. But Barnes expected
airlines to continue scheduled flights to Cuba, rather than revert to
charter flights, as travelers adapt their plans to join person-to-person
"While demand for commercial flights remains to be seen, historically,
the airlines have done well to manage their yields by shifting to
smaller planes or slightly lower frequency of departures," Barnes said.
"There are still a lot of meaningful tourism offerings for American
travelers. We expect airlines to keep servicing these routes and we are
excited to continue welcoming American travelers to Cuba."
Source: President Trump's travel changes for Cuba won't be immediate -