The US Department of Transportation has granted Icelandair (FI, Reykjavik Keflavik) all of its requested charter rights for services between the US and Havana Int'l despite considerable opposition from American carriers active in the same market.

The regulator allocated 170 round-trip charter rights to the Icelandic carrier, comprising 136 flights from Miami Int'l and 17 each from Orlando Int'l and Houston Intc'l, between February 1 and May 31, 2022. In a separate decision, the DOT also authorised Icelandair to operate four round-trip flights from Orlando to Havana between January 11-31, 2022. All flights will be operated on behalf of tour operator Anmart Air.

iAero Airways, GLOBALX, and World Atlantic Airlines, joined by the US Air Line Pilots' Association (ALPA), collectively objected to Icelandair's application in late 2021. However, the DOT found no basis for their arguments, roundly rejecting all of them and siding fully with the Icelandic carrier.

In particular, the DOT agreed with Icelandair in rejecting allegations of the lack of reciprocity. The regulator underlined that it was not aware of any seventh-freedom request by US operators that had been denied by the Icelandic authorities. It also dismissed claims of Icelandair's alleged "undue reliance" on the proposed seventh-freedom operations. The DOT also noted that while the number of flights seemed high based on 2020 traffic figures, it was solely because Icelandair - like most other carriers - operated a skeleton network to the US that year. Finally, the DOT pointed out that even though the US-Havana market is capped at 3,600 round-trip flights per year, there are still unallocated frequencies left that US carriers are free to apply for if they can secure charter clients.