The US government has announced the upcoming signing of a memorandum of understanding with Cuba in the field of civil aviation that will pave the way for direct commercial flights by the year end. Up to 20 direct flights daily will be permitted from the US to Havana, and 10 more to another nine international airports in Cuba, including those at Santiago de Cuba, Manzanillo and Camaguey, Thomas Engle, deputy assistant secretary of State for transportation, said on Friday. The memorandum of understanding will be signed on February 17 in Havana by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and his Cuban counterpart, Adel Yzquierdo. The accord will permit the continuation of charter airlines' existing operations, which amount to between 10 and 15 flights a day to Cuba, Engle said. "This provides for a very important sizable increase in travel between the two countries," Engle said. The accord is part of the process currently underway to restore relations between the US and Cuba. On December 17, 2014, Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro announced the beginning of a process to normalize bilateral relations that led to the reopening of the two countries' respective embassies in Havana and Washington in July 2015, after a gap of over 50 years.