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US airlines could start serving Cuba by as early as this summer, according to the latest reports.

As least 12 carriers have filed for the right to fly to Havana and other cities on the island as relations between the two countries thaw.

The filings, some of which ran hundreds of pages long, indicate that service could begin as early as July, Conde Nast Traveler in the US reported.

But airlines said that they expect most passengers to have personal or family connections to Cuba until the US trade embargo is lifted and tourism can resume.

Others will have to show that that they fall into the 12 categories of travellers from the US who are allowed to visit Cuba.

A deal with Cuba allows 110 daily flights between the countries, but just 20 of them to Havana – although that is by far most sought-after market, according to the filings.

Ten daily flights will be permitted to each of nine other international airports in Cuba.

Airlines that have applied for rights to serve Cuba include American Airlines, Delta, United, JetBlue, Southwest, Frontier, Alaska Airlines, Spirit, Silver Airways and Sun Country together with start-up Eastern and charter carrier Dynamic Airways.