U.S., Cuba say making headway on restoring commercial flights

(Reuters) – U.S. and Cuban officials said yesterday they had made important headway in a months-long effort to restore scheduled flight service between the countries after half a century of confrontation.

An agreement would pave the way for U.S. airlines to schedule flights to Cuba that travelers could book directly from their websites, which could boost tourism and business on the Communist-ruled island.

A formal deal has yet to be reached, the officials said. The Associated Press, citing unnamed officials, reported earlier on Wednesday that the United States and Cuba had reached “an understanding” on restoring commercial airline flights.

The negotiations come on the eve of the anniversary of the Cold War foes’ decision to normalize relations, which led to prisoner exchanges and the opening of embassies in Washington and Havana.

Josefina Vidal, director of U.S. affairs at the Cuban Foreign Ministry, said the countries “obtained important advances in the negotiation” and that “soon we will be able to make an announcement.”

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