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Sun Country seeks to launch nonstop flights from Minneapolis to Cuba

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Minneapolis could be getting a nonstop flight to Cuba.

Minnesota-based Sun Country Airlines has applied for authority for two nonstop flights per week from Minneapolis to Havana, Lee Jones, a spokesperson for the airline, told BringMeTheNews Thursday.

"Sun Country has bid on a few year-round routes from Minneapolis to Havana, both nonstop as well as a one-stop flight through Ft. Myers, Florida," Zarir Erani, president and CEO of Sun Country, said in a statement. 

The airline, which has offered charter service to Cuba for the past few years, has also bid on seasonal routes to Varadero, located on Cuba's Hicacos Peninsula, and Santa Clara, in central Cuba, Erani says.

Sun Country is among several commercial airlines looking to be the first to offer flights from the U.S. to Cuba, but it is the only one bidding on a nonstop flight from Minnesota, reports note.

However, one of Minnesota's dominant carriers – Atlanta-based Delta Airlines – has bid on nonstop flights to Havana from Atlanta, New York, Miami and Orlando, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports. (The Points Guy, a travel blogger, has compiled a list of the routes airlines have bid on.)

This comes after the U.S. government signed an arrangement with Cuba last month to resume commercial flights between the two counties, and Wednesday was the deadline for North American airlines to apply for the routes.

According to the agreement, the countries can operate up to 110 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and Cuba, including up to 20 daily roundtrip flights to Havana, Cuba's capital and a sought-after tourist destination, according to a news release. The agreement also allows for up to 10 roundtrip flights between the U.S. and each of Cuba's nine other international airports.

"The Department recognizes the eagerness of U.S. carriers to take advantage of these new Cuba opportunities, and intends to reach a final decision as expeditiously as possible," the agency said in the release, noting answers to the applications are due March 14, with replies to those answers due March 21.

It's not clear when the approved routes will be announced, but JetBlue Airlines, which applied for routes to Cuba from the northeast, says flights could begin as early as September, the Boston Globe reports.

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