United Airlines (UAL) today completed its application to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for authority to provide daily service from Houston to Havana's José Martí International Airport. United's proposal, subject to government approval, will expand its service from Saturday-only to daily service.
Launched in December 2016, United's successful Saturday-only service between Houston and Havana reflects the airline's optimism about future growth potential and will provide customers with greater choice and convenience when planning travel to Havana.
Houston is the only gateway involved in the DOT proceeding not located on the East Coast and is geographically well situated to connecting flights from the central and western U.S. to Havana. As the U.S. airline with the least amount of service to Havana, an increase in service by United will ensure greater competition in the marketplace and will improve air service opportunities to Havana for customers in Houston and 44 other destinations in the central and western U.S.
Houston is a large exporter of raw materials that are in high demand in Cuba, including building materials, drainage and water supply systems, and parts and services related to the oil and gas industry. The Port of Houston exports grains, soybeans, corn, and chicken to Cuba, and Houston's central U.S. location makes the city a prime location for further trade development.
"There are a number of synergies between Cuba and Houston when it comes to energy, medicine, education, the arts – even in sports," said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. "United's daily air service from Houston to Havana will greatly increase opportunities to connect family and friends while significantly increasing potential for trade and investment between Houston and Cuba."
"United's application to increase to daily service between Houston and Havana is well supported thanks to Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, as well as from Texas Congressmen Kevin Brady, Gene Green, Pete Olson, Ted Poe and the Houston Airport System and the Greater Houston Partnership," said Steve Morrissey, United's vice president of regulatory. "These are just a few examples of the supporters interested in improving air service between Houston and Havana and offering customers throughout the central and western U.S. more opportunities to make convenient connections in Houston."
Onboard products and services
If approved, United will operate service between Houston and Havana with either Boeing 737-800 mainline aircraft or Embraer E175 regional aircraft operated by Mesa Airlines as United Express. United's Embraer E175 two-cabin regional jet offers 12 seats in United First and 64 seats in United Economy, including 16 extra-legroom United Economy Plus seats.
United Economy offers complimentary food, soft drinks, juices, beer and wine, tea, coffee and inflight entertainment. Additionally, the seats feature an adjustable headrest and a personal on-demand entertainment system.
The E175 also offers more personal space for customers, with wider seats and aisles than other regional aircraft; a power outlet at each United First seat; United Wi-Fi; free access to a library of movies and TV shows that customers can watch on their personal devices, and large overhead bins that can accommodate standard-size carry-on bags.
United in Cuba
Since December 2016, United has provided Saturday-only service to Havana from Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and daily service to Havana from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). United offers the only service to Havana from both Houston and New York/Newark. This year, United Airlines opened its first city ticket office in Havana. The ticket office enables United to provide Cubans and other international customers the opportunity to purchase travel on United Airlines.