The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has tentatively allocated rights to iAero Airways (SWQ, Greensboro) (previously Swift Air (United States of America)) and World Atlantic Airlines (WL, Miami Int'l) to operate public charters to Havana Int'l.

"The Department tentatively allocates to Swift Air, LLC, and Caribbean Sun Airlines, Inc. d/b/a World Atlantic Airlines, an initial allotment of public charter flights for the 2020/2021 charter year for their currently authorized U.S.-Havana services," it said.

Swift Air will be allowed to operate 2,654 flights between March 1, 2020, and January 31, 2021, departing from Miami Int'l, Tampa Int'l, and Fort Myers Southwest Florida. World Atlantic will operate 355 flights from Miami and Tampa. Both carriers have seven days to confirm their intention to operate the charters.

As the DOT seeks to maintain the current level of service, it capped the annual number of allocations at 3,600 flights, beginning the first day of the month following the final order's issuance. The remaining 591 rights for the initial year "would be maintained in a charter pool for distribution on a first-come, first-served basis to interested carriers", the DOT proposed.

Going forward, the DOT intends to establish a regulatory framework and allocation procedures wherein a maximum of 75% of the total number of flights would be allocated to carriers with a history of serving the market through advance allotment starting around six months before the beginning of the new period, while the remainder will be available in a pool on a first-come, first-served basis.

Carriers serving Cuba through scheduled flights will not be eligible for the advance allotment of charter rights.

The DOT also indicated that it would enforce a use-or-lose rule.

"The charters allocated in the 2020/2021 charter year initial allocation and subsequent years' advance allotment would be subject to forfeiture if less than 40% are used or committed for use by contract during the first six months of the charter year," the DOT explained.

The new rules are a consequence of a recent decision of Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao, who, at the request of the State Department, suspended all public charters from the US to Cuban airports other than Havana and capped Havana charters at a level "consistent with the US policy objectives".