U.S.-Cuban aviation deal possible this year, official says
By Daniel Trotta
HAVANA, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Cuba and the United States advanced toward restoring scheduled airline service during two days of talks that concluded in Havana on Tuesday, with the potential to reach a deal this year, a U.S. official said.
"One more meeting might be enough to finalize an arrangement. I can't be sure," said the U.S. official, who was familiar with the talks and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The two sides planned to meet again, possibly before the end of this year and most likely in Washington, the official told Reuters.
Scheduled commercial airline service has been suspended for decades as a result of Cold War animosity, but both sides quickly made resumption a priority upon detente last December.
Charter flights have long connected the United States and Cuba. Then Washington initiated new rules in January that more easily permit U.S. airlines to fly to Cuba.
However, U.S. and Cuban officials first need to negotiate a new arrangement before restarting scheduled service in which customers could book travel directly with airlines.
After that informal deal is reached, the two sides have agreed to work on updating a 1953 civil aviation agreement that is still valid but obsolete.
Officials from six U.S. government agencies met with counterparts from the Cuban Foreign Ministry and the Cuban Institute of Civil Aviation on Monday and Tuesday, the official said. Continuación...