JetBlue launches $99 flights to Cuba next month

On Thursday, JetBlue announced it will begin operating flights to Cuba on Aug. 31 with fares starting at just $99 one-way.

The move makes the low cost carrier the first U.S. airline to begin flying regularly scheduled trips to the Caribbean nation since the Department of Transportation gave eight major airlines the okay to begin service to Havana earlier this month, according to USA Today.

JetBlue says it will initially operate three flights a week—a nonstop between Fort Lauderdale and the city of Santa Clara in central Cuba-- before going into daily service on Oct. 1. In November, the airline will offer flights from Fort Lauderdale to two other Cuban cities-- Camagüey on Nov. 3 and Holguín in eastern Cuba on Nov. 10.

American Airlines and Silver Airways have also announced their schedules for regular Cuba flights, slated to begin early September.

President Barack Obama has worked over the past several years to thaw relations and travel restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba. But even with fewer administrative hurdles to climb, American travelers who were authorized to visit Cuba for educational or cultural proposes still had to travel to the country via charactered aircraft.

JetBlue says its service to Havana-- the Cuban capital and also the largest city-- will be announced at a later time. The airline expects its initial routes will be popular among Cuban-Americans visiting relatives, as well as business travelers looking to expand trade and other commercial deals in Cuba.