Senators Collins, King Introduce Legislation to Allow Transit Stops on Flights to and from Cuba

Legislation would create new opportunities for American workers and airports.

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) introduced legislation today that would permit foreign air carriers traveling to or from Cuba to make non-traffic, transit stops in the United States.

“Under the current travel ban, foreign air carriers are forced to make transit stops in Canada rather than the United States, and any potential profit for U.S. airports flies right across the border along with the planes,” said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement.  “Our bill would provide American airports and workers the opportunity to compete with Canadian airports and would align U.S. policy with existing international air travel agreements.”

“This amendment will ensure the U.S. abides by its bilateral and international transport agreements and help to bring business back to Central Maine,” said Anthony Caruso Jr., Airport Director of Bangor International Airport.  “This will allow us to compete on a fair and level playing field with Canadian airports.”

During these transit stops, passengers do not disembark the plane and no new passengers board the aircraft.  Yet, these stops are valuable for airports and their employees who can offer fuel, de-icing, catering, and crew services.  By not permitting transit stops, the U.S. is out of compliance with several international transportation agreements, including the Chicago Convention and the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement.

In addition, the current restriction on transit stops means that U.S. airports, such as Bangor International Airport, not only lose revenue related to flights to or from Cuba, they are also passed over by foreign carriers traveling to or from other destinations in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.

Permitting these stops would not result in any incremental benefits to Cuba because these flights currently make transit stops in Canada.  The Collins-King legislation would simply allow U.S. airports to compete on a fair and level playing field with Canadian airports that currently provide this service without restriction by the Canadian government.