(Reuters) - Top U.S. officials will travel to Havana on Feb. 16 to sign an aviation pact that restores scheduled airline service between the United States and Cuba for the first time in more than 50 years, the U.S. Transportation Department said on Friday.
The signing brings into effect an arrangement the Cold War foes agreed upon on Dec. 16. U.S. airlines still must apply for permission from U.S. regulators to fly specific routes before they sell tickets to Cuba.
While charter flights already connect the countries, the accord is expected to increase tourism and business on the communist-ruled island. Airlines expect a gradual payout from the arrangement as well.
U.S. Transportation Department Secretary Anthony Foxx and Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Charles Rivkin will participate in the signing, the Transportation Department said in a news release.
Reporting By Jeffrey Dastin in New York; Editing by Tom Brown