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U.S. and Cuba close to reaching a deal on restoring commercial flights

United States and Cuban officials said Wednesday they are nearing a deal on restoring regular commercial flights between the two countries.

Josefina Vidal, the head of North American affairs for Cuba's foreign ministry, told The Associated Press that teams meeting in Washington since Monday "have made important advances in negotiating a memorandum of understanding on establishing regular flights between Cuba and the United States, and shortly they will be ready to announce a preliminary agreement on this issue." Both sides hope a formal deal will be reached within hours or days, AP reports, with U.S. State Department spokeswoman Kerry Humphrey saying they are "making progress but still negotiating."

Now, travelers have to take expensive charter flights between the U.S. and Cuba, which can be hard to book. Major U.S. airlines like Delta, United, American, JetBlue, and Southwest have all said they are interested in providing regular flights from the United States to Cuba, and it's not clear if commercial flights would completely replace charters.