Southwest CEO says airline could begin Cuba flights in 2016

DALLAS (AP) – The CEO of Southwest Airlines Co. says the carrier could begin Cuba flights this year.

Gary Kelly offered details Monday in a message to employees, according to The Dallas Morning News. Kelly said Dallas-based Southwest “in all likelihood” would apply to fly in and out of Cuba on new routes being opened.

The U.S. and Cuba last week signed an agreement to resume commercial air traffic for the first time in five decades. U.S. airlines can bid on routes for as many as 110 U.S.-Cuba flights daily. All current passenger flights are charters.

Kelly said Southwest is prepared to consider the opportunity and may very well be flying to Cuba in 2016.

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U.S. carriers face a March 2 deadline to submit applications.