(Adds background, State Department comment)
Dec 16 (Reuters) - The United States and Cuba have reached “an understanding” on restoring commercial airline flights, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed officials.
A U.S. State Department official said the two countries were making progress but still negotiating. An agreement has been expected before the end of the year.
The report comes on the eve of the first anniversary of the countries’ historic decision to normalize relations after half a century of confrontation.
Scheduled commercial flight service has been suspended for decades as a result of Cold War animosity, although charter flights connected the countries in the interim.
The news will pave the way for U.S. airlines to sell tickets to Cuba on their websites directly to travelers. However, only certain U.S. citizens will be able to take up the offer because a ban on general tourism to Cuba remains in place. (Reporting by Eric Walsh in Washington and Jeffrey Dastin in New York; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Cynthia Osterman)